Emilia Perez, a masterpiece by Jacques Audiard

a la une, Arts

Get ready to be dazzled on August 28th! “Emilia Perez” hits theaters in France. The topic of transgender issues is gaining traction, and rightfully so, as popular culture increasingly needs to embrace the diverse and often extraordinary lives of these individuals, filled with both wonder and pain. When a master like Jacques Audiard tackles this subject, gender dysphoria transcends expectations, becoming societal dysphoria. Audiard takes us on an emotional journey imbued with social messages. 

Jacques Audiard surrounded by his cast at the Cannes Film Festival 2024

in order from the left : Selena Gomez, Edgar Ramirez, Zoe Saldaña, Jacques Audiard, Karla Sofia Gascón and Adriana Paz

Remarkably, the film is in Spanish, a language I do not speak, nor does Audiard, much like when he directed “The Sisters Brothers” in English. His ability to convey emotion transcends language barriers.

Addressing this topic as a musical is as surprising as the journey of the protagonist, played by Karla Sofía Gascón. We first meet her as Manitas, a terrifying yet brilliant drug cartel leader at the peak of success. He decides to transform into the woman he has always dreamed of being since childhood. This transformation is not just personal but challenges multiple narrative levels, encompassing love, emancipation, drama, and thriller, all set to vibrant music.

This tragedy goes beyond transgender issues. By choosing Mexico City as the backdrop, Audiard highlights a stark reality where thousands disappear, women are victims of abuse in both domestic and work environments, and femicide is a common occurrence. This setting amplifies the film’s themes, bringing attention to broader societal issues while telling a deeply personal story of transformation and identity. 

Karla Sofía Gascón is both Manitas and Emilia Perez, and you could not have one without the other, and if this was obvious for the actress it was not so for the movie director in the beginning. She was casted for Emilia and fought hard to convince Audiard to let her play the double role. But is it really a double role ? The make up transformation is stunning, but the inner character is one and the same as the actress who became a woman only a few years ago, in 2018.

French film director Jacques Audiard for his photo-call for the movie Emilia Perez, at the Cannes Film festival 2024

.“If you’re going to make a musical, if it’s going to sing and dance, you might as well start with a tragedy.”

Jacques Audiard

“It’s a magnificent gift Jacques offered me,” the Spanish actress revealed.


“If I have a message to send, it’s that we trans people are just like everyone else. I’m neither more intelligent nor more stupid because I’m trans. Whether we are LGBT or anything else, we are normal people. We can pursue the careers we choose, whether it’s teaching or acting. We made a choice about our bodies, which belong to us. We have the right to make decisions about.”

Karla Sofía Gascón

This is a film where the inner voice sings, tearing us apart and enchanting us. With the incredible Zoe Saldaña and Selena Gomez, composers Camille and her partner Clément Ducol have reached extraordinary levels of inspiration. Their globally recognized talents are doubled with drama and passion in this film. As for Karla Sofía Gascón, her vocal metamorphosis is astounding. She understands transfiguring deeply, as this character resonates profoundly with her personal story. As a singer, she was almost a blank slate for Camille, evolving into a voice that grips our hearts, ready to make us cry and dive into her story.


Spanish actress Karla Sofía Gascón at Cannes Film festival for her fist role in Emilia Perez by Jacques Audiard

It is the 7th selection to Cannes Film Festival for Jaques Audiard, since 1994 and winner of the Palme d’Or in 2015 with “Dheepan”. With his 10th feature film Jaques Audiard signes a brilliant manifest movie, a masterpiece. 

“Rita is desperate and lonely. She is desperately hungry to grow, underappreciated, overworked, underpaid, and invisible in a country that is not her own. Latin America can be harsh on immigrants and darker-skinned people. We are all coloured, but there’s a colonized mentality we still need to break out from, it is a very complex conversation.  To be able to play someone like Rita in my native tang, as an afro-latino and having the free agency that Jacques gave me, was liberating. I really wanted to write her backstory, sometimes feeling it was too much, but it was delicious to surrender to her desperation.

Living in Rita’s discomfort was both interesting and awful, reflecting the reality many illegal aliens or immigrants face. She was smart but had misconceptions about power. Her examples and her her role models were men like her boss, exploiting her day after day. In her mind, that power was necessary. At the story’s end, everyone pays the price for their Faustian choices.”

told us Zoe Saldaña about her role in Emilia Perez at Kering, Women in Motion

by Alexandra I. Mas

photos © Marco Tassini

beautiful Selena Gomez delivers a powerful and emotional role for Emilia Perez by Jacques Audiard
we had a great talk with Zoe Saldana at Kering , women in motion

Director : Jacques AUDIARD
2024 / France / 130 minutes
in theatres : 28.08.2024

Production : Saint Laurent productions by Anthony Vaccarello  / Why Not productions  / Page 114

  • Jacques Audiard screen play / dialogues
  • Paul Guilhaume photography 
  • Emmanuelle Duplay set design 
  • Camille & Clement Ducol music 
  • Cyril Holtz, Erwan Kerzanet & Aymeric Devoldere sound 
  • Juliette Welfling editing
a gorgeous Sain Laurent image with the cast of Emilia Perez and Jacques Audiard