MOVIES

A Bold and Messy Mexican Trans Crime Musical

“Emilia Pérez” is billed as an original musical, and it’s certainly that, although some of its songs work better than others. They have a tendency to be delivered directly to camera, and that combined with some extremely earnest lyrics can make them feel a little bit goofy. That said, there are a few songs — especially from Rita and Jessi — that are genuine bops, ranging from wildly energetic to deeply heartfelt. Hopefully by the time the movie hits theaters, they will have remixed it, because the version that premiered at Cannes had the backing music dramatically overpowering the vocals.

But songs and narrative aside, the greatest asset “Emilia Pérez” has going for it is the electrifying screen presence of Karla Sofía Gascón in the titular role. From the moment we see her as Emilia, she feels light as a feather, unburdened by her past life and overjoyed by the opportunity she has to simply be herself. She’s a force of nature and difficult not to like, so much so that it’s easy to forget the violence and cruelty she inflicted on others as Manitas.

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