The camera sees what it sees!
I mentioned in my recent review for “Approaching the Unknown” that my preferred type of films are ones that offer completely original ideas, in other words something that whilst it may borrow elements from other films, the story is largely completely original, and so I decided to take a film that has been on my “Films I Want to Watch” list for a while now and review it.
“Camino” looks like nothing that I have seen before, and I can’t say that I’m overly familiar with anyone involved in the movie, even though Zoe Bell was in the Quentin Tarantino flick “The Hateful Eight”, and therefore I go into this with a relatively open mind.
I think that is something that plagues a lot of smaller films that star people that you’ve heard of before, especially if you’ve seen a lot of their films, you just have expectations. My only exposure to anyone in the cast before has come in a minor part in a very, very long film, so my canvas of expectation is fairly blank for a change.
Famed war-photographer Avery (Bell) has gained success throughout her career due to taking pictures of the true nature of war. She doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t take sides, therefore allowing her to get the best pictures and ones that represent war as it truly is. In 1985 she is asked to document a man called Guillermo (Vigalondo), a supposed warlord in Columbia.
At first she finds no issues with Guillermo and finds him and his group to be very likeable, but in the dusk of a morning she goes for a walk and notices him with huge piles of drugs and killing a child. Guillermo is only alerted to her presence when her camera starts rewinding the film. She runs off fearing the worst, and Guillermo convinces the rest of his group (that weren’t present) that Avery had killed the child.
How long can Avery survive, especially when the dangerous Alejo (Huerto) finds her?
I will definitely give it to those behind “Camino” in saying that it’s definitely original. I can’t think of another film that is like this, so for that I give the filmmakers kudos, however, just because it’s relatively original it doesn’t mean that it’s that interesting.
Whilst the concept for “Camino” certainly grabbed my attention, I certainly couldn’t say the same about the execution as I regularly found myself able to drift in and out of the story, checking my phone, grabbing a drink, etc, all without even pausing the film. That’s never a good sign and the reason I was able to do that is because minutes pass by without anything happening, and then minutes turn into tens of minutes and for lack of better words, I just became very disinterested as the film went along.
That being said, when something does happen it is often brutal, engaging and interesting. For example, when Alejo and Avery have their fight, it’s unforgiving, bone crunching and brutal. The sound effects add to what is an already intense scene. There are maybe four or five moments throughout the run time that are actually worth watching, but the problem is that it feels like one big lost opportunity as whilst those scenes are brilliantly done, there parts in between just don’t really excite on any level.
The reason that I saw it as a missed opportunity is that they have caught onto a very interesting psychological aspect and that is that everyone has two different personalities, the one the you wants others to see, and the one that you are when no-one is watching, and the scene in which Avery discovers what Guillermo is really like is very symbolic of that. It’s the first film that I can think of that uses that psychological process, but by doing so it means that the plot makes very little sense.
Guillermo’s troubles start when Avery catches him killing a child, but why would he do that when he knows that she is around and has already said that she would take pictures of anything and everything, and wouldn’t try and hide what was happening? It’s a bit strange that he gets so angry that he is caught doing it, even though he must have realised that it was a possibility.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad at all, the soundtrack for the film is fantastic and the acting is competent from everyone concerned. I just wish that they had come up with something that actually keeps you interested, or at least not tempted to look away from the screen on a regular basis.
“Camino” is a bit of a missed opportunity from a psychological perspective. It’s not an awful film by any stretch but it definitely doesn’t reach a level where you want to keep watching.
The acting is fine and the soundtrack is great, but there is just something about the film that made me not really feel that engaged.
It could have been worse, but it definitely could have been better.