Julie Carmen

After a hiatus for graduate school, award-winning actress Julie Carmen stars in the edgy surf film, “Dawn Patrol,” opposite Scott Eastwood and Rita Wilson.

 Directed by Daniel Petrie, Jr., “Dawn Patrol”  aims for a “West Side Story” vibe at a locals-only beach. In her portrayal as the enigmatic Laura Rivera, Carmen hol     ds Scott Eastwood’s character hostage as he recalls the twists and turns of how and why he murdered her son.

The 61-year-old actress deconstructs the narrative of her new film and defends her character’s gun toting ways.

 “‘Laura Rivera’ is ‘Everywoman’ who loses a child to murder,” Carmen explained. “We see her in every culture throughout time, and to label her a ‘thug’ is to obliterate the mother’s point of view. Who carries the weight of the orphaned parents?”

 “Dawn Patrol” is told in alternate, Rashomon-like accounts, exposing the xenophobia and racism that rips a remote, multicultural surf city apart. Carmen’s character explodes with the rage and confusion of a mother confronting her child’s killer, and plots a haunting, lasting revenge.

 “I was directed in a style inspired by Latin American magical realism and that contrasts with how Scott Eastwood, Rita Wilson, Jeff Fahey, Kim Matula, Dendrie Taylor and Chris Brochu tell their story, in an ultra realistic way,” Carmen said.

Early in her career, directors Robert Redford, John Cassavetes, Michael Mann and John Carpenter recognized the innate chameleon-like quality Carmen brings to her roles, virtually disappearing into her characters.

 From Broadway—when she first danced in Luis Valdez’s “Zoot Suit” —to her award winning role in Cassavetes’ “Gloria” opposite Gena Rowlands, Carmen’s fascination ability to get into the soul of the characters she portrays allows the viewer to feel their joys and triumphs and their pain. She makes us feel.

“Dawn Patrol” appears in select theaters beginning June 5.