Judge Bill Gibron wishes he had "died" before watching this weak bit of whimsy.
Our review of Camille, published September 19th, 2005, is also available.
A romantic comedy about a marriage that is truly forever.
Silas Parker (James Franco, Milk) is a small time thief who gets in trouble with the local sheriff (Scott Glenn, Urban Cowboy). Presented with the prospect of going back to prison, he takes the lawman up on his latest "sweetheart" deal—marry his ditzy, nattering niece Camille (Sienna Miller, Factory Girl). She has had a crush on the beleaguered bad boy her whole life. Seeing no other way out, he gets hitched and the two head for a honeymoon at Niagara Falls. Camille is ecstatic. Even though she knows Silas doesn't love her, she figures he will eventually. Wrong! The two are involved in a horrible accident on the way, and Camille is killed. Silas goes off looking for help, and when he returns…his new bride is down by the river, washing up. She's a little sore, but otherwise okay. Of sure, she starts to smell after a while, and Silas has to buy formaldehyde to cover the stench of rotting flesh. But with the police hot on his trail (they think he is headed to Canada), our unlikely hero must find a way to keep his better half from falling apart, all while slowly falling in love with her.
Wow…what a weird one Camille is. Like one of those ideas that sounds amazing in concept but can't get past the daunting drawing board stage come practicality time, you really have to feel for Franco and Miller. Both have been much better in other films in their burgeoning career, and they didn't have to try as hard as they do here. He must maintain a certain air of basic believability, even when he's making cow eyes at a corpse. And she is stuck with a Southern drawl so thick and twangy that Minnie Pearl is suing for copyright infringement. Oh, and she's a perky zombie too. Instead of dealing directly with the dark and clearly macabre underpinnings of the plot, first time director Gregory Mackenzie and first time feature scripter Nick Pustay take the A-train directly into whimsy town, hoping that eccentric elements like a cowboy (the late David Carradine) who airbrushes his horses in tranquil pastel colors and the couple's preferred mode of transportation (read: motorcycle with sidecar) will supplant any need to go nasty. And for a while, they're right. While the movie sometimes plays like George Romero's take on Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, we start to buy into the whole undead newlywed ideal.
But Camille is one of those movies that really should know when it's overstaying its welcome. Heck, even David Lynch holds off on the quirk long enough to give his movies some dramatic, emotional, or artistic heft. What could have been a clever 30 minute short is milked for nearly an hour more, some scenes going on far too long to make much narrative sense. If we believe there was a purpose to this nonplused road trip, if we could see that the story was going somewhere other than the standard "realizes they are in love" conclusion, we might continue our support. But fables and fairytales like this usually have a moral, and it's typically as simplistic as what is laid out here. Even with the more supernatural aspects of the material later on, we still don't completely buy the premise. And when the standard RomCom crapola comes careening in, attempting to get us all moist and misty-eyed with its "Love Me Do" lameness, we can no longer tolerate the saccharine schmaltz. Camille could have been a clever riff on the whole "to death do us part" aspect of marriage. Instead, it's just bizarre for bizarreness's sake.
All of which raises a larger, more commercially minded question—who, exactly, is clamoring for this title on Blu-ray? Is there some secret Sienna Miller Completists Society out there who just will not rest until this and every other movie that the actress has ever been in sees the light of a high definition day? If that's the case, these people need help NOW!—especially when you realize the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio has been retrofitted into a 1080p high definition 1.85:1 presentation. Image comparisons are available online, and from the looks of it the picture has been "pulled"—actors and other vertical objects appear a bit longer than usual, and the sides are squashed in and cramped. Sure, the transfer is adequate, offering a clearer and more colorful visual element, but there's softness and grain in abundance. Similarly, while Cowboy Bob's horses look great, other aspects of the film fade into the background with little aid from the format update.
On the sound side, the lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio master is good, but not great. There really is no discernible difference between this aural offering and the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The musical score may be maxed out by the technological tweak, but that's about it. Everything else is standard and suitable for home video viewing. On the downside, this disc contains no significant extras. There is a trailer, in HD of all things, but that's it. No commentary. No making-of. No explanation regarding what we are supposed to make of this failed fractured love story.
Far too twee to be telling, Camille needed to be sat down and told of its rampant inefficiencies. Like the clueless title character however, it's so lost in its own little world that it doesn't recognize when it's failing in this one.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2009 Bill Gibron; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.