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Selena Gomez & Zoe Saldaña Star in First 'Emilia Perez' Musical Trailer

— © Shanna Besson

As soon as it debuted at Cannes in May, Emilia Perez became one of the most talked-about films at the festival—against all odds. A musical-comedy about a trans cartel leader starring Selena Gomez might not sound like the typical prestige fare that performs well with critics, but in the hands of risk-taking French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone), the film has already cultivated an exciting buzz.

Now that the first trailer for Emilia Perez, which Netflix is reportedly in talks to distribute, has dropped, here’s everything to know about the film:

What is the plot of Emilia Perez?

The film, which is divided into four acts and is mostly spoken in Spanish with some English, follows Zoe Saldaña as Mexico City lawyer Rita Moro Castro. Underrated and burnt out, Rita agrees to take on an unusual case—to help a feared cartel boss retire from his business and disappear forever by becoming the woman he’s always dreamed of being, according to a logline.

That boss, Emilia Perez (formerly known as Juan “Small Hands” Del Monte), is played by Spanish actress Karla Sofía Gascón. Juan transitions into Emilia, at least partially to escape a long life of murderous crime. Rita is handsomely paid for helping facilitate this, and years later, is living a lavish life in London when she runs into the former narco, who asks her to help return to Mexico to see her family—especially her wife, Jessi, played by Selena Gomez. Rita agrees to help Emilia, who poses as long-lost “Aunt Emilia” to live with her beloved family again (this Mrs. Doubtfire-esque setup is where much of the film’s comedy comes in), and also helps her start a foundation dedicated to identifying victims of the cartel wars. Scenes of violent hijinks (and heartfelt moments of revelation) ensue—interspersed with characters breaking into song and dance.

Who is in the cast of Emilia Perez?

As mentioned, Saldaña and Gomez are the film’s bold-name stars, but 52-year-old Gascón is no stranger to the screen (you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about her once Emilia Perez premieres). Gascón, who has appeared in many telenovelas and Spanish-language films over the years, became the first openly trans actor to win a major prize at Cannes when she shared the Best Actress Award with Saldaña and Gomez this year. She dedicated the award to all trans people “who suffer and must keep faith that changing is possible,” adding, “If you have made us suffer, it is time for you also to change.”

“I think this movie is about the power of femininity,” Gascón told Variety. “It starts in a very dark, male-dominated, violent world and, thanks to community, it becomes brighter and better.”

The film features an ensemble of international performers, including Mexican actress and dancer Adriana Paz, Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez, Ukrainian-born Israeli actor Mark Ivanir, James Gerard, Shiraz Tzarfati, Agathe Bokja, Lucas Varoclier, Marie-Elisabeth Robert, Eric Geynes, and more.

Does Selena Gomez sing in Emilia Perez?

Yes—Gomez has some big numbers in the film, along with the rest of the principal cast. “I prefer singing in Spanish to English—I absolutely love it,” the Grammy winner told Vanity Fair of the process. “I don’t know why I can do it easier than English, but I can. It’s so weird! So I can’t speak it, but I sing it better.”

At a press conference, Audiard said that he was partially inspired to create Emilia by a transgender drug dealer character in Boris Razon’s 2018 novel Écoute, which he read in 2020. He began writing a screenplay that turned into an opera libretto—eventually, some of the songs in the film took on a more pop-tinged sound. French musical duo Camille and Clément Ducol helped create the music for the film, and choreographer Damien Jalet collaborated on Emilia’s elaborate musical numbers with the actors.

“I started out as a ballet dancer, and you live and you die in the rehearsal—it’s always what happens backstage, that is where you truly find yourself,” Saldaña told VF. “That is where you fail so many times until you find what works….Your director molds you and stretches you and throws you out—and then you give your own ideas and figure out what it is that is not working.”

Is there a trailer for Emilia Perez?

Yes, the first trailer for Emilia Pérez dropped on June 18. Currently, it’s only available with French subtitles. If you don’t understand Spanish or French, you can still watch below to get a vibe for the wild project:

When is the Emilia Perez release date?

Currently, Emilia Perez is set to be released in theaters in France at the end of August 2024. Reports indicate that it will stream on Netflix in the U.S. and the U.K. shortly thereafter. Stay tuned for updates.

Source: W Magazine

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