Frederica (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) is a charming thirty-something woman living alone in the city of lights, Paris. She lives with a major problem that threatens to destroy her sanity. Frederica's problem…she is filthy rich. What other people would consider a privilege or simply luck Frederica looks upon as a disadvantage. The only place where she finds temporary solace is a private ballet studio where other Parisians like to escape the monotony of the big city. Money, however, is not where Frederica's frustration ends. Her career as a freelance writer is also, to say the least, unremarkable. Script after script she is rejected and friends, lovers, colleagues, even work are slowly losing meaning for her. In life what other people cherish and find precious Frederica faces with revulsion.
It's Easier For a Camel…(Il est Plus Facile Pour un Chameu…) is written and directed by the alluring Italian actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, better known for her work with such renowned directors as Patrice Chereau (La Reine Margot), Francois Ozon (8 Femmes), and Bertrand Blier (Mon Homme) among others. This is Tedeschi's directorial debut and the cast that she has managed to get involved in this production includes some well known European actors such as Jean-Hugues Anglade (Betty Blue, Killing Zoe), Chiara Mastroianni, Yvan Attal (My Wife is an Actress), Emmanuelle Devos (Read My Lips), etc.
To be honest I have seen quite a few of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's works and was impatiently waiting to discover what she would craft as a director. In fact, I imported the French release of this film almost a year ago and to this day I am having a hard time categorizing exactly under what genre this charming little film falls. There is certainly plenty of comedy, a bit of drama, and even a bit of satire if you will, in It's Easier For a Camel… However, the film is none of the above. It is rather a mix of all three with probably a half dozen other genres being gently intertwined. As a result the real value of this film is to a certain extent questionable. I am not so sure that even the most dedicated of Valeria's fans would appreciate an approach where absurdity and off-beat behavior are the foundation for otherwise average story.
Focusing on the weaknesses of this film is also where the viewer should look to discover some of its strengths. It's Easier for a Camel…was inspired by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's own struggle to find meaning in life. Her own family, a rather wealthy one, moved from Italy to France due to the fact that the Red Brigades, a well known terrorist formation during the late 70s and early 80s, have begun to kidnap kids from their wealthy parents. Valeria's family became deeply distressed by the possibility of having their daughter harmed and as a result they relocated to France.
While nearly all of the main characters in this film deliver convincing and inspired performances for me it was the story that never really developed into what otherwise could have been a superb production. Frederica's struggle to find logic in her life somehow never convinced me that she had a problem to begin with. Her brother and sister and their social inability to connect to each other as well as Frederica's intimate "other-half" looked as confused on the screen as she was. This greatly diminished the appeal of Frederica's character to me and the climax of It's Easier For a Camel…left me somewhat cold.
Even with all the imperfections for a debut picture, however, Tedeschi's film has plenty of charm. The tragic-comic look which Frederica has on her face brings plenty of smiles on the screen and the inclusion of animation shots to support the absurdity of the story line is simply perfect. I just wish that the self-absorbed approach the picture followed would have been a bit more elaborated allowing the main story to develop a tiny bit more and not suppress it. Either way I shall be looking forward to see what the future will bring for Tedeschi as a film director.
How Does the Disc Look?
It's Easier for a Camel…is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is enhanced for widescreen TV's. The image looks sharp with some good contrasts. With this said I am greatly disappointed as yet again in a typical for New Yorker manner this appears to be a PAL to NTSC port. "Ghosting" and some distracting shimmering are noticeable especially in fast motions.
How Does the Disc Sound?
A rather unremarkable French 5.1 sound mix is provided for the main feature that should satisfy most audiophiles. The dialog is well separated from the classical soundtrack and I don't see any problems at all.
New Yorker Films have provided a collage of deleted scenes that were also present on the original French release which could be seen with or without the inclusion of English subtitles. In addition, there is the the original theatrical trailer for It's Easier for a Camel…and a gallery of trailers for other New Yorker productions.
I am a long-time admirer of Valeria's films (and I mean seeing her as an actress) so a few years ago when this project was announced I was very excited. After having seen her directorial debut a few times now I feel like I am missing something. And it is not the acting that I wish would have delivered more, it is I suppose the story which did not appeal to me. Knowing that this is a rather personal film for Valeria I am eagerly anticipating to see what her next project will look like. I expect only better.