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Camille
Genre Fantasy
Year: 2007
 
Review:

False advertising... I'm talking about movie marketing, the kind that misleads you into thinking a movie is something it isn't! This has got to be the evil machinations of production houses, who back a dark horse on its star power, sheer originality or budgetary concerns in the hopes that someone will rent or buy tickets to their movie. Camille is one such film, punted as a romantic comedy... this couldn't be anything further from the truth. If Raging Bull was romance and Schindler's List was comedy, then I suppose you could say we have a match. Now, Camille isn't as extreme as those two examples and that's probably why it doesn't make the grade... let's just say it falls in the realm of fantasy, a dreamy nightmare.

Backed by the acting talents of James Franco and Sienna Miller, Camille has the stars of an atypical romantic comedy, but it's no such thing. Yes, romance in its broadest sense enters into the story as a newly wed couple take a road trip to see Niagra Falls. However, this is not the happiest day of their lives and explains why so many films opt to end on a wedding scene, rather than start with one. Silias (Franco) and Camille (Miller) are mismatched lovers. He's an ex-criminal on parole, she's an eccentric klutz - yet somehow the two find themselves married. Still sounds like "romcom" material, but it isn't.

Now it's difficult to talk about Camille without spoiling it for the select few that actually plan on seeing it. The film is original for its bizarre turn of events and you could almost say it's a tame version of David Lynch's Wild at Heart. Starting to get the picture? The film doesn't really explain how or why a strong dose of magic realism tends to filter into the story. This is frustrating, forcing viewers to carry on watching as the mystery behind the deteriorating relationship fuels the onward journey to Niagra Falls. Blue horses, cowgirl outfits, state police, motorbikes and David Carradine... Camille's got a bit of everything.

There are points at which Camille becomes difficult to watch, creepy... bizarre and eerie even. However, one is compelled to see the journey through. The film's main problem is that it doesn't steer left or right, opting to straddle the solid line of comedy and drama. There aren't any cues for the audience to get in on the joke and there aren't any handles to grasp the gravity and seriousness of it all. Instead, you're left in a state of limbo... in an unpredictable, colourful and bizarre atmosphere.

Camille only works because its so different to what you'd expect. This surprise factor compounds with the background mystery and relies on the propulsion of the classic road trip to carry itself home. Franco and Miller deliver decent performances given the material, but it doesn't have enough consistency and backbone to really make much of a statement. David Lynch's visuals leave the viewer in an emotional flux, while Gregory Mackenzie's Camille like a David Lynch and Farrelly brothers train-smash. It's thought-provoking by virtue of its slant and leaves you feeling fairly ambivalent about the whole experience.

The bottom line: Weird.

 

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