‘Masterpiece’ gangster trans musical Emilia Pérez is making waves at the Cannes Film Festival

Selena Gomez lit by neon red light in Emilia Perez

Spanish-language musical Emilia Pérez has been the talk of the Cannes Film Festival thanks to its dramatic story of Mexican drug wars, not to mention trans liberation.

Emilia Pérez has become a Cannes breakout with French director Jacques Audiard’s film receiving a standing ovation for over 10 minutes on Saturday (18 May) – the longest so far this year.

The film follows the story of Mexico CIty lawyer Rita (Zoe Saldaña). She is hired by cartel leader Manitas (Karla Sofia Gascón) with the unusual request to help Manitas flee Mexico with her children and wife, Jessi (Selena Gomez) in order to seek gender affirming surgery so she can live as a woman.

Emilia Pérez has been widely lauded, and it’s hard to think of a film more instantly memorable than one that features Selena Gomez stating: “My pussy still hurts when I think of you.”

Emilia Pérez: what do the reviews say?

The comedy crime drama has logged an impressive 89% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes from early festival reviews. 

Rolling Stone‘s review of Emilia Pérez describes the musical as “one of those films in which description on a page can’t do justice to the delirium onscreen.”

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The outlet details the viewing experience is both exhilarating and exasperating, swinging so wildly all over the map that you may want to pre-emptively wear a neckbrace before viewing.”

Furthermore, Vanity Fair notes “Audiard’s steadfast refusal to play it as a joke – this is sincere, sentimental filmmaking – proves wholly winning.”

Variety adds that previous trans-focused films like Girl andThe Danish Girl have been criticised for focusing on the “transition itself than the people fulfilled by that process.”

From reviews, Emilia Pérez is said to explore how transitioning is a part of the character’s journey, “but just the first act of a much larger story.”

As one X/Twitter user enthusiastically detailed ““A trans-musical crime thriller telenovela romance? Yeah it’s a masterpiece.”

“An audacious mix of genres and themes that shouldn’t work—probably won’t for many—but I’m in love. Karla Sofía Gascón, Zoe Saldaña and Selena Gomez: mothers.”

Is Karla Sofía Gascón transgender?

Karla Sofía Gascón attends the “Emilia Perez” Photocall at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival (Getty)

Yes, Karla Sofía Gascón is a transgender actress, and she has been outspoken about the widespread prejudice the trans community is facing.

In a Cannes Q&A she spoke about her experiences as a transgender woman, explaining: “People who are trans are subjected to insults or death threats because they exist. In Mexico, there are harsh phrases when addressing trans people. It can be gross.”

“I think we should be taken for what we are. We have to continue fighting for our rights. We have our body and we’re allowed to change it,” she said.

“We’re just normal people… I think in the world, you should be treated with respect.”

When is Emilia Pérez‘s release date?

Currently, there is no Emilia Pérez release date for UK or US audiences.

However, the film will be theatrically released in France on 28 August 2024.

Hopefully, this gives a slight hint at when we might expect Emilia Pérez in cinemas.

Is there a trailer for Emilia Pérez?

There has been no official trailer for Emilia Pérez to date, but that doesn’t mean we have no information about the look or content of the film

Some film stills have been released that give an idea of the visual style and what to expect from this musical comedy-drama.

Images include stills of several women who are the stars of Emilia Pérez.

These images range from the women glamorously dressed up, to quiet moments where they are alone and seemingly reflecting. With bold colours and gorgeous costume design, Emilia Pérez looks stunning.

Who is in the Emilia Pérez cast?

Starring Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldaña and newcomer Karla Sofía Gascón as Manitas, Emilia Pérez is stacked with an impressive female cast.

Selena Gomez may be a world-famous singer, but she got her start in the acting world. She has also been showered with praise for her performances in the 2016 comedy-drama film The Fundamentals of Caring as well as the true crime mystery show Only Murders in the Building opposite Steve Martin and Martin Short.

Gomez is accompanied by Saldaña who is primarily known for her work in the science fiction franchise Avatar. She has also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Gamora, a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karla Sofía Gascón is a trans actor known in Spain for her appearance in Spanish soap operas.

Gascón, Gomez and Saldaña are accompanied by Édgar Ramírez, Mark Ivanir and Adriana Paz in the film.

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