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A Mexican lady, escaping from an extinction level violence and a devastated American combatant met and fell in love while evading authorities. Carmen turns Bizet’s timeless opera into a hallucinatory spectacle of music, drama and dance. Benjamin Millepied’s directorial debut features no traditional story but an absorbing fantasy. The movie can be best described as an experience like one dreamt when feeling sick that confuses too much at times but the pure audacity is outstanding. It is the talent of its leads who electrify with their chemistry.

A car speeds toward a modest shack in desolate Mexican desert – Cartel hit men are searching for Carmen (Melissa Barrera). Her courageous mother, Zilah (Marina Tamayo), does a flamenco performance on bare wood in protest. A hidden Carmen watches painfully as her fearless mother pays the ultimate price for standing up to injustice. As she walks away from the burning house towards the horizon with little luggage on her back, it is gone forever. She soon meets a human trafficker willing to take her and many others desperate to cross into America.

Meanwhile, In Texas Aiden (Paul Mescal) grills hamburgers at his barbecue party. He consumes Pepsi amid advances by another man’s wife that he avoids accepting. That night Aidan played guitar and sang alone again. She begs him to get a job; so Aidan would accept Mike’s invitation to guard the border. They need experienced soldiers; he needs money because all his assets have been destroyed by warlords. From there onwards, Carmen commences

Carmen along with line-up of exhausted hungry emigrants crawls beneath the border fence till they’re met with high beams coming out of pickup truck headlights , Mike spewing racist venom opens fire indiscriminately . His sight has got Carmen but not any chance she gets inside the truck and flees off fearfully . Aidan follows suit into the back , with a leap . People who are thrown together by destiny must now consider their next move.

Carmen opens on a lovely slow motion shot of Carmen and Aiden sprinting into darkness. The voiceover narration of Masilda (Rossy de Palma) speaks in poetic Spanish about men that have been shattered, and women who would give all to them. Millepied foreshadows a tragic love story through hallucinating imagery before cutting to her mother taunting the sicarios. This has no rhythm; moving from dreams to what we think is happening. It is up to the audience to join up dots or fill in those gaps which are left unanswered. It is artful but not always successful since it leaves the audience dazed one minute and hooked the other as they bob up and down like a ping pong ball.

Dance routines by Millepied are really complex. Throughout the movie, Carmen whirls and pirouettes with people, while Aidan looks at her longing for more. His choreography does not allow fluidity or excessive elegance on purpose. He is characterized by raw masculinity softened by Carmen’s agile femininity. He intoxicates her with his masculine presence; she practically breathes him in: Barrera and Mescal have an explosive connection that unbuttons shirts, causes hearts to skip beats, because of their simmering romance.

Carmen embraces its vision like a charging bull, and Millepied never takes a straight path. Some sections feel self-indulgent where traditional exposition would have been much more coherent but in some measure it is commendable and makes sense. The point isn’t to serve up a conventional plot on a silver platter for easy digestion. In the end, Carmen is an unapologetic art piece.

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