Hot off his Oscar nomination for “Aftersun” — and his renewed commitment to keep starring in independent films — Paul Mescal will be returning to arthouses this spring in “Carmen,” a new opera-inspired film directed by “Black Swan” choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
Millepied’s film stars Mescal and Melissa Barrera as an undocumented immigrant and a border patrol guard who fall in love despite the fact that they’re supposed to be foes and go on the run together. The film features an original score by Nicholas Britell, and original songs by Britell and other musicians including the DOC, Julieta Venegas, and Taura Stinson.
According to the film’s official synopsis, “Carmen” follows a young and fiercely independent woman who is forced to flee her home in the Mexican desert following the brutal murder of her mother, another strong and mysterious woman. Carmen (Barrera) survives a terrifying and dangerous illegal border crossing into the US, only to be confronted by a lawless volunteer border guard who cold-bloodedly murders two other immigrants in her group. When the border guard and his patrol partner, Aidan (Mescal) — a Marine with PTSD — become embroiled in a deadly standoff, Carmen and Aidan are forced to escape together. They make their way north toward Los Angeles in search of Carmen’s mother’s best friend, the mercurial Masilda (De Palma) and owner of La Sombra nightclub, a sanctuary of music and dance. Carmen and Aidan find both solace and their unwavering love for each other in the safety of Masilda’s magical refuge, but time is running out as the police hunt closes in.
Critics have praised the film’s ability to blend elements of opera, dance, and cinema to produce a work of art that honors its source material while still being able to stand on its own. In his Toronto review, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that: “Located somewhere between a classic opera, a modern dance piece, and a deadly fever dream — between the timeless beauty of ancient myth and the modern nightmare of America’s current immigration policies — Benjamin Millepied’s ‘Carmen’ is stretched across a few too many borders to ever feel like it’s standing on solid ground. And yet, it’s undeniably exhilarating to watch one of the world’s most accomplished choreographers team up with one of its most virtuosic composers (Nicolas Britell) for the kind of aggressively unclassifiable movie that would never exist if not for these two artists reaching beyond their disciplines to create it themselves.”
Sony Pictures Classics will release “Carmen” in select theaters on Friday, April 21 before rolling the film out nationwide in May. Watch the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below.