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Benjamin Millepied's CARMEN

Rated R


Sony Pictures Classic

Playing at The Broadway Theatre Salt Lake City as of 5/19/2023

I grew up in a world of music and dance. Dancing from the time I was 3 and listening to my father fill the house with music, as he played different percussion instruments in the house throughout my youth. When I heard that the new film "Carmen" was being directed by Frensh choreographer Benjamin Millepied, I was more than excited. I have watched musicals and dance-based movies my entire life and there are only a few films that I think the "dance" part of the films is captured correctly.

Carmen stars Melissa Barrera (Scream franchise, In the Heights) and Paul Mescal (The Lost Daughter and Aftersun). They are brought together in this passionate opera, film, telenovela. I was immediately captivated by the films coloring and cinematography. I you have heard or read any of my reviews before, you know I am obsessed with these two things. When you get the look of your film right, it is magic. After you notice that your eyes are getting a delicious serving of color, movement and drama; you are then surrounded by a symphony. The push and pull of the movie's powerful score will get your heart pumping and draw you in.

The big question is, can an Opera make it as a movie? I have had this discussion before about musicals and books. When we grab stories that we love that come from different mediums and reimagine them in film form, will the essence of what we love get lost? They have to be changed to flow correctly and make sense. I do believe the drama, sexuality, power and passion of "Carmen" is in this film. When the director has you enter the dreamscapes and they do feel like bits of dreams stitched together, you are pulled in and find yourself moving with the film.

What doesn't work is the dialogue and the story within the story. I wish this had no dialogue and we were led around by these characters through the story. As we go back and forth between the dialogue that the writers and director belive we need as film goers, you get pulled away from what the film really could be. It is gutsy to make a film like this, I wish they would have had enough confidence in what they were making and a little more confidence in the audience that was meant to see this film to go all in. I love movies that challenge an audience to think outside the box. I know I am not the only one. We could have understood it without conventional dialogue.

This has a small opening in arthouse movie theatres after it had some good reviews in film festivals last year. I do think if you are on the lookout for something "new", an art experience in a movie theatre, you should go see this film. The concept is there, the talent is there and for his directorial debut, I applaud Millepied for showing us that there are still new ways to bring stories to a film screen. I can't wait to see what else he gives us.

Grade: B-

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