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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Camille
Camille
National Entertainment Media // PG-13 // September 15, 2009
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted October 27, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM

A distinctive tone of dark whimsy is what director Gregory Mackenzie is searching for with the black comedy "Camille," but he mostly encourages a constipated quality that's neither humorous nor daring. Perhaps best described as a zombie rom-com, "Camille" is allowed the luxury of two lead actors able to swallow their embarrassment, giving the script a special spin as it slowly but surely drives straight into a wall of ludicrousness.

On the eve of her wedding day, Camille (Sienna Miller) is filled with excitement, ready to make her lifelong boyfriend, Silas (James Franco), her husband. Trouble is, Silas wants nothing to do with Camille, going through with the wedding to please her father (Scott Glenn), a cop who's helped Silas out of trouble on numerous occasions. On their way to Niagara Falls, Silas fails to contain his frustration with Camille's sunny personality and chatterbox nature, alienating his bride on her happiest day. The drive to Canada is halted by a horrible motorcycle accident, which effectively kills Camille. Overcome with remorse, Silas is alarmed when Camille jolts back to life, unaware of her demise and ready to continue on to her honeymoon destination, slowly falling to pieces along the way.

Star power helps. It really does. Sure, it encourages inflated salaries and ego-centric demands, but when a script just isn't working and a director doesn't have a clear vision for the project, it's often up to the cast and their innate charms to help get the movie up and walking. Franco and Miller appear distressed throughout "Camille," as if they realized what they stepped in on the very first day of shooting, but they commit to what they can. Juggling the overtly cutesy script by Nick Pustay, the leads deliver energetically on beats of surprise and undead awareness, trying to wake the film up with a little marquee personality.

Miller lays on the southern-fried harmony (an accent she almost lands) with her entire body weight, but the effort is appreciated, especially faced with Mackenzie's wobbly direction and a soundtrack of tuneless country hits that hardly fit the borderline sci-fi mood. Miller is all smiles and slow decomposition as Camille, a beaming bride whose blind love for her doubting husband appears to be breaking all sorts of laws of the afterlife. Franco is playing against type as the tattooed, smoker bad boy, and he's capable of finding Silas's panic buttons, but Miller is the high beams of the feature, and she holds the often nonsensical nature of the script together with her emotional availability.

The late David Carradine joins the film in the second half as Cowboy Bob, also wrestling with his own struggles of life and death, though his are strictly regulated to the equestrian variety. Painting his elderly horses rainbow colors to help stave off decay, the animals soon come to represent Camille's plight, as the newlywed deals with hair and digit loss, and eventually the presence of a gaping bullet hole. Mackenzie takes the symbolic reach of the horses and Camille too seriously, sobering up this kooky film in the midsection for a completely unwelcome dramatic detour.

THE DVD

Visual:

The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1 aspect ratio) presentation on "Camille" loses steam in low-light scenarios, where contrast issues creep in and muddy the important details. Colors are well preserved, and skintones are readable (an important element of the plot). Outdoor action offers a more agreeable visual experience, with the Niagara Falls sequence showing off the highlights of the DVD.

Audio:

The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix is basic and eager, with good separation between dialogue and soundtrack selections, though the songs have a way of taking over the soundstage when needed. Environmental atmospherics come into play during crowd sequences, with some pleasing audience chatter during carnival and tourist trap scenes.

Subtitles:

English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered.

Extras:

A Theatrical Trailer has been included.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The ending of "Camille" requires a viewer absolutely incapable of cynicism, otherwise the resolution could potentially cave in a skull. Mackenzie goes for the gold here with a flying blue horse, poetic turns of fate, and a baffling afterlife visitation that apparently the living and the dead can witness. It's meant to be cute and harmless, preying on romantics, but it registers more as complete absurdity, minus the soothing touch of a capable filmmaker.


For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com
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