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  • Written by Samuel Gut


Presented on May 18 at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard's new film "Emilia Perez" brings a fresh breeze to the Croisette. The musical comedy, acclaimed by critics, stands among this year's major contenders for the Palme d'Or, which Jacques Audiard already won in 2015 with “Dheepan”.

The film depicts the story of a Mexican drug trafficker who undergoes surgery to become the woman he has always wanted to be; it is also an opportunity for him to leave behind illegal trafficking. With the help of an overworked lawyer exploited by a corrupt firm, he attempts to disappear from the eyes of his adversaries and even his family, taking a few million dollars with him.

Emilia Perez was directed by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard, whose filmography includes “Le Professionnel” (with Jean-Paul Belmondo), “120 battements par minute” (awarded at Cannes), and “Les Olympiades”. The energetic musical comedy is led by the trio of actresses Karla Sofia Gascón, Zoe Saldaña, and Selena Gomez. Dance and song are woven into the plot of a film that is ultimately about humanity, according to Zoe Saldaña.

Guided by choreographer Damien Jalet, the actresses embraced a fresh and new style of performance.

The true star of this film is neither singer Selena Gomez nor actress Zoe Saldaña, but the transgender actress Karla Sofia Gascón, who portrays her character both before and after the transition. However, she does not want to emphasize this aspect of her life. "We, trans people, are like everyone else!" she exclaimed at the Cannes Festival. While the film is not political according to Zoe Saldaña, it serves as an introduction to the transgender community and allows for a better understanding, to some extent, of the complexity of transitioning. The film is a means to deepen sensitivity on identity and gender issues and to bring visibility to it.

Highly anticipated, the film was even followed for two years by journalists from the renowned French cultural media outlet Télérama. Besides the performances of the actresses and actors, the soundtrack has captivated both the audience and critics. Camille and Clément Ducol composed an original track with pop, rap, and Latin influences, representative of an eclectic and harmonious film.

Presented on May 18 to the Cannes jury, the film "Emilia Perez" will be released in cinemas on August 28.


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