National Entertainment Media
Cast: Sienna Miller, James Franco, David Carradine, Scott Glenn, Ed Lauter
After hitting the international festival circuit in 2007 and languishing through scattered American festivals in 2008, Gregory Mackenzie's romantic comedy/fantasy "Camille" ultimately made its debut on DVD and Blu-ray without even so much as a limited theatrical release. That is never a good sign; but it is in an accurate one. The movie's spotty release history is fully justified by its utterly misguided content.
The story follows young newlyweds Silas (James Franco) and Camille (Sienna Miller) as they set out for their honeymoon in Niagara Falls. Silas has just been let out of prison on parole, which means he is not allowed to leave the state, but his parole officer, who also happens to be Camille's uncle (Scott Glenn), willfully looks the other way. While heading for the Canadian border by motorcycle, the couple has a terrible accident, resulting in the untimely death of Camille. Through some sort of bizarre miracle, however, her life is restored so that she may fulfill her romantic dream. Unfortunately, the rest of this fantasy of love reaching beyond the grave inspires more recollections of "Night of the Living Dead" than "Ghost."
Silas and Camille are not the cutest couple to begin with, their good looks notwithstanding. She is a talkative cartoon character with an obsession with taking instamatic photos, and he can't seem to stand her (why he agrees to marry her is never fully made clear). He readily admits to her uncle on their wedding day that sometimes he feels like punching her. After her return from death, Camille's body proceeds to decay even as she prances around with a beaming, naïve smile. The ordeal pushes Silas to finally put his selfish desires aside and prove his love for his wife, which he does by stealing gallons of formaldehyde from a mortuary to preserve her rotting flesh and a garish red wig from a beauty salon to replace her fallen hair. Later, she has her body spray painted to hide her increasing paleness.
While all of this may sound like the makings of a black comedy, it in fact is all played quite seriously. There is no explanation for Camille's return from death, and once this occurs, the movie becomes steeped in morbid and rather unsettling territory that verges on necrophilia, yet the filmmakers treat it with a sense of preciousness that is totally without irony. Instead of being either funny or romantic, the film is consistently gross and wildly uneven. David Carradine turns up in a completely superfluous role as an aging cowboy who, rather than bear parting with his dying horse, paints her blue and parades her around carnivals and rodeos (!?!?). And Ed Lauter plays nasty as a gun-happy police officer who suspects Silas of murder and sets out to find and shoot him. It is difficult to find words to accurately describe this mind-boggling mess. It is an absolute train wreck of a movie, unredeemable on nearly every level.
About the only thing working in its favor is Sienna Miller's central performance. She clearly gives it her all, but her character is by turns so annoying and repulsive, it is actually painful to see Miller floundering in such trash. "Camille" is, to put it simply, a bad movie. It is not a laughably bad movie; it is just bad. Like its unfortunate heroine, it bears the stench of rotting decay, and the only people who might enjoy it are necrophiliacs—or masochists. Either way, they have issues.
Whatever defects "Camille" has as a movie, there can be no faulting National Entertainment Media's Blu-ray transfer, which is gorgeous. Presented in 1080p high definition, the picture is crisp and sharp, with rich and brightly saturated colors. In spite of its dark subject matter, the film has an almost luridly confectionary color scheme, and the image pops brilliantly throughout. "Camille" may be a head-scratcher, but it's no eyesore.
Audio is also fine in a DTS 5.1 Master Audio track that renders voices, music, and sound effects clearly. A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also included, as well as English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles.
Not surprisingly, the only supplement offered is a trailer. It's hard to imagine anyone involved with this film would have had the nerve to go on camera and defend it.
"Camille" is a disaster. NEM has given it a pretty picture, but you can't make a silk purse out of a dead sow's ear.