It's Easier for a Camel... Movie Review

To paraphrase Bogart, the problems of a bunch of rich people don't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world - this is why your average filmmaker, in order to get an audience to care about disgustingly wealthy characters is to either make them so engaging that one can't help but get emotionally involved or to subject them to truly horrific circumstances that level the economic playing field. It's Easier for a Camel..., an autobiographical story by the actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi - who wrote, directed and stars in the film - about an Italian family of malcontents living in Paris off their patriarch's vast earnings, does neither of these things, resulting in a distant and distinctly minor piece of work.

Tedeschi plays Federica, a young Italian woman who's trying to make a go of things as a playwright but seems to spend most of her time mooning about in discontent, daydreaming, finding ways to sabotage her relationships, and compulsively going to confession, even though she has nothing to confess. As her working-class, leftist boyfriend Pierre (Jean-Hughes Anglade) reminds her, with the vast sums of money sitting in her bank account, her intermittent writing is actually less a job than a hobby. The film's title is a reference to the Biblical passage about it being easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.

At first, Federica's melancholy seems to have a root, what with her father chronically ill in the hospital and a mother and siblings who could charitably be described as distant. But it's soon clear there is a fundamental void at her center, an utter lack of drive or imagination (even the occasional fantasy sequence which interrupts the film's languid pace seem slight and none-too-exotic). Federica makes the occasional motion towards doing something of worth, like giving her money to charity, but it mostly comes to naught, as she undergoes another panic attack, always digging in her massive purse which she hauls around like all her neuroses. And so it goes, with Federica treating the priest she confesses to more like an analyst, and self-destructively starting an affair with a married ex.

Although, for a first-time director, Tedeschi shows admirable restraint behind the camera (she's acted in dozens of films over the past two decades, so must have picked something up) her screenplay is in no hurry to get anywhere or provide any real insight, making it hard not to view the film as a self-indulgent waste of time. The always reliable Anglade adds some desperately-needed edge as one of the only people on screen with any sort of purpose, but his palpable frustration with these emotionally stunted bourgeoisie soon becomes the audience's, who will likely have as little patience for their self-obsessed, self-pitying antics as he does.

For all this, Tedeschi is an impressive actress, her wide-eyed, slightly-toothy face an engaging platform for registering Federica's chronic indecision, but her writing and directing need a great deal more molding before they can be deemed truly worthy of her acting talents.

The DVD adds deleted scenes.

Aka Il est plus facile pour un chameau...

But it's harder for a goat.

Comments

It's Easier for a Camel... Rating

" Grim "

Rating: NR, 2003

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