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Emilia Perez by Jacques Audiard

Emilia Perez directed by Jacques Audiard




Screened in the official selection at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Palme d’Or winner in 2015, the French director returns with a film that blends crime thriller and musical comedy against the backdrop of drug trafficking in Mexico, featuring a stellar cast led by Karla Sofía Gascón, Selena Gomez, and Zoe Saldaña.

The idea of the film came up from a novel he read in 2020, called  “Écoute” by Boris Razon, which told this same story but in a short way.


Written by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain (director of “Les Cowboys” and “Selfie”).





Overqualified and overworked, Rita uses her legal skills for a major firm more inclined to launder criminals than to serve justice.

But an unexpected way out opens for her: to help cartel boss Manitas retire from the business and fulfill the plan he’s been secretly perfecting for years: to finally become the woman he has always dreamed of being.



Rita (Zoe Saldaña), a disillusioned and underemployed lawyer, is hired by Manitas (Karla Sofía Gascón), a drug lord who wishes to become a woman (Karla Sofía Gascón). She has no choice but to accept once she has seen his face.

This begins a journey around the world to find the best clinic and the best surgeon, who happens to be in Tel Aviv.

Manitas is finally operated on by an Israeli surgeon played by Mark Ivanir (a well-known Israeli actor, particularly for his appearance in the film Schindler’s List and in the series Away). Why Tel Aviv? At a press conference, an Israeli journalist asked the question, and Jacques Audiard did not really answer it.

There is connection between and the documentary “The beauty of Gaza” by Yolande Zauberman.  It is about transgender women of Palestinian origin who fled their families to seek refuge in Tel Aviv.




Jacques Audiard has directed many films, always powerful, often original and well-written, including “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” and my favorite before “Emilia Perez,” “A Prophet.”

Zoe Saldaña contacted Jacques Audiard after seeing “The Beat That My Heart Skipped.” Like any actress, she had to audition and practiced dancing 14 hours a day to prepare for the role.

Karla Sofía Gascón also fought to portray the male role as well. She lights up the film with her acting, presence, and charisma and is the revelation of this festival. Hopefully, she will win an acting award next Saturday.

The young Selena Gomez resumed speaking Spanish, her original language which she had forgotten, and spoke Spanish with her family for a year.

As in any musical comedy, the film’s soundtrack is a protagonist in its own right, where the performers are both singers and actors.

The choreography by Damien Jalet and the songs composed by Camille and Clement Ducol give us goosebumps.

And the film, whose action takes place almost entirely in Mexico, was shot in France at the studios of Brie-sur-Marne.


Emilia Perez


The script is full of twists and turns in this story of redemption that brings trans identity to the forefront.

At times, we are in the series “Narcos,” at other times, we are propelled into an Almodovar film. A film mixing thriller, musical comedy, and telenovela genres, “Emilia Perez” was my favorite film seen at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

“Emilia Perez” is a moving film. Jacques Audiard pays tribute to women, to Mexico, and of course, brings visibility to transgender identity.

“We, trans people (transgender people, editor’s note), are like everyone else!” declared Spanish actress Karla Sofía Gascón on Sunday, May 19 in Cannes. Karla Sofía Gascón, 52, changed her gender at 46, with an already established career, a wife, and a child. She has written an autobiography that exposes her to homophobia and transphobia.

“Changing bodies is changing the world,” says the protagonist.

Through his films, Jacques Audiard also changes our view of the world.



Emilia Perez


Learn more about the Cannes Film Festival : Festival de Cannes


Release date for “Emilia Perez”: August 28, 2024.




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