Time Out saysYes, another celluloid whirl for the hot-blooded Spanish seductress, but veteran director Aranda goes back to the story’s source in Prosper Merimée’s novella, before Bizet brought the character operatic immortality. More, he puts Merimée in the film, as a French writer who discovers the ‘real’ Carmen on his journeys through the Spain of 1830. From then on, however, it gets pretty familiar with Paz Vega (lithe siren of ‘Sex and Lucia’) baring teeth and all else as the titular cigar-factory girl whose irresistible animal presence drives soldier-boy José to his doom.
It’s all beautifully photographed and scored, but pursues the sexual obsession to such a degree it leaves the characters seeming pretty flimsy, and it’s hard to get that involved when the story’s already so ingrained in our consciousness. Vega disports herself with a certain physical abandon, but comes across as just another Carmen rather than the original model. Elsewhere, middlebrow gloss tries to disguise Aranda’s rather prurient eye for female flesh.