Cast: Paz Vega, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Director: Vicente Aranda
Certificate: 15,
Cinema Release date: Sept 10

Based on the novel by Prosper Merimee, Carmen is the classic tale of forbidden passion between a young man and a spoken-for woman Carmen (Paz Vega). Its told in flashback as a young soldier stripped of his decorations explains all in a prison cell.

He tells of the love he had for Carmen and the passion they produced and shows how ultimately that love was proved to be destructive.

Director Aranda knows a lot about romance. His film releases include Lovers, The Bilingual lover, Jealousy, Turkish Passion and Mad love, so you tend to feel heís on home ground making a realistic film about two people in love who have to snatch odd moments to be together. You also see a lot of Paz Vega and most red-bloodied males arenít going to grumble much about that. The romance too is believable.

For a story though that exudes passion, you expect Carmen to be vibrant and fiery and dramatic as a film and this one doesnít really catch fire even though the tale contains sex, betrayal and murder. For all the dramatic tension and full-blown love scenes, it stills seems like a story that you end up following thinking it will lead to more than youíre ultimately given. At times, you wish the pace would quicken up and towards the end, you may even begin to get tired of seeing so much flesh and writhing going on, up on screen as it ceases to contain the same level of excitement as you felt it did, at the start.

A smouldering passion then rather than big flames igniting, but fans of Sbaraglia and Vega are unlikely to complain, because you do see a lot of them.

Matt Arnoldi



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