Carmen in Khayelitsha | Chicago Reader

Carmen in Khayelitsha

This South African rendering of Carmen is only the latest attempt to make Bizet's chestnut more palatable to contemporary audiences. Sung and spoken in Xhosa, Mark Dornford-May's frenetic adaptation features solid performances by the leads (especially Pauline Malefane as Carmen, singing with gusto and carrying her large frame with considerable grace) and a shantytown setting that places this tale of fatal passions in a hardscrabble postapartheid Cape Town. The film is never dull and often rousing, but this is essentially a conventional version of a classic opera—the attempt to transform it into a critique of macho hubris comes off as an afterthought, and the poverty is just a backdrop. With subtitles. 120 min.


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