' ' Cinema Romantico: Camille

Thursday, October 08, 2009


So let's say that you have a movie about a parolee Silas (James Franco) who is engaged to be married to southern belle Camille (Sienna Miller, ravishing, accent coming and going, but what are you gonna do?) simply because she likes him and her uncle is the local sheriff (Scott Glenn) who advises Silas it's either get hitched or go back to jail. And let's say they go get married and then take off for Niagara Falls, even though Silas is not supposed to leave the state, because it's where Camille wants to go and let's say they make the trip aboard a motorcycle with a side car. And let's say that on the way there they get an accident and are both thrown from the motorcycle and that Silas survives but Camille does not. And let's say that a frantic Silas runs to a nearby farmhouse to use the phone, but doesn't since he's on parole, remember, and then unwittingly robs the inhabitants of the farmhouse, and then returns to the crash site to find Camille isn't dead. Wait, wait, wait, wait, is she dead or isn't she? What's going on here?

Let's say she is dead. Well, let's say she's dying. She's alive, sort of, but has all the characteristics of a dead person. Her hair is falling out. (Sienna Miller in a bald cap is still striking, if you ask me.) She smells like she's dead which leads to Silas dousing her in formaldehyde. Naturally. But because she's only dying and hasn't yet officially expired they continue their passage to Niagara Falls, now with the authorities on their trail, and, slowly but surely, come to fall truly in love.

Oh, and let's say that during their trip they encounter this guy named Cowboy Bob (the late David Carradine) who tends to horses for a carnival, horses that he paints different colors, which means that one of the horses is blue. Yes, blue. And let's say the climax of the film involves Camille and Silas astride this blue horse with the cops closing in and then the two of them and the blue horse leaping into the chasm of Niagara Falls.

Now let's say I told you this movie was directed by David Lynch. Ah, you're intrigued a little bit, aren't you? Sure, you know some of the movie will likely be awful and that some of the movie will be so incomprehensible that it would take two lifetimes to get even a miniscule grasp on what was going on and that some of it will probably be rather good but you will know for sure that the darn thing will be interesting. Unique. Unlike anything you've seen.

Except "Camille", produced in England but shot in Canada and released, though not in the United States, back in 2007 (I netflixed it, of course, because of a certain person's presence), was directed by some guy named Gregory Mackenzie. What was this guy thinking? He plays it all too straight. The concept's in the stratosphere but the movie stays firmly on the ground.

For instance, when Silas and Camille have their first dance, long, long after the wedding, at Cowboy Bob's carnival, what song do you think gets played? If it's David Lynch it's probably something off Nick Cave's "Murder Ballads". Instead we get some schlocky "love" song that even Top 40 radio would have rejected. Need I remind you, Mr. Mackenzie, one of your two main characters is dead? Need I remind you David Carradine is carting around a blue horse?

This movie was meant to be done under the big top, a big top filled with a collection of the freakiest circus performers this side of "Carnivale". Instead we get a Matthew McConaughey/Kate Hudson vehicle with a living corpse.

1 comment:

Andrew K. said...

What an interesting premise.