Camille Rewinds

Camille Rewinds


Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

Noémie Lvovsky is the director and writer of the time travel, Eighties nostalgia brew that is Camille Rewinds. She is also the star and in every scene of the movie as the alcoholic, forty-something, soon to be divorcee, Camille Vaillant, as well as her 16-year old high school student self, who is now trying to avoid the mistakes she made the first time around. No Kathleen Turner here. She returns to the year 1985, one year before Francis Ford Coppola made his comedy Peggy Sue Got Married, which clearly prompted this film. Time travel stories always have logistical problems, and demand cooperation from an audience to believe that certain things can be changed in the past, while others cannot.

Camille Rewinds makes you wonder why you should believe anything shown here. Self indulgent, nonsensical and soulless scenes are woven together into a sentimental fog that hovers above the surface of a faux world, past and present.

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The film is visually painful with pungent colors and cartoonish sets, and people dressed in Eighties attire in what looks like a desperate attempt to get an audience to react. When Camille first re-enters her old school, the students look like a United Colors of Benetton ad from the era. The 16-year-old's parents (Yolande Moreau and Michel Vuillermoz) are little more than brightly colored props that were told to act lovable. The obliviously sick mother shoves herself around the rooms in an unbecoming mustard brown woolen tube skirt, saving bumble bees, while her daughter from the future records her voice. The father gets to look concerned and cooks a ratatouille that might correspond to someone's personal nostalgia but looks rather unappetising to the rest of us. The death of the mother, once it fulfills its function for the plot, proving that Camille knows events in advance, is emotionally forgotten. No one mourns, no one cares.

A beautiful cat, prominently introduced at the start to exist in both sections of present and past reality, completely disappears, its lovely face never seen again in the last two thirds of the movie.

A cat, a dying mother, pea green stockings, a girlfriend going blind, a poster of David Bowie, another girlfriend wanting a new adoptive mother, 99 Luftballons: it's all the same here, all of it contrived and wallowing in the bad old days in order to avoid any real change.

The misused Jean-Pierre Léaud has a cameo as the owner of a watch shop. Making sure that his keeper of time won't have any emotional impact, Lvovsky has him recite Alcoholics Anonymous mantra guidelines. The effect is not funny, but sad, as most audiences will take away nothing more than a sigh of "My, how Antoine Doinel has aged."

Mathieu Amalric fares much better with his hyper-sleazy portrayal of a French teacher. The belly, the beard, the Seventies glasses and the long, unwashed hair, with a whistle round his neck while he teaches Camus, help Amalric to achieve a disgusting authenticity. His behavior towards female students might send shivers of recognition down your spine.

The relationship between Camille and her three girlfriends is another missed opportunity to overcome the forced concept. A scene of the four women at a swimming pool at night has some surprising charm. Moments like these are too rare here.

The message at best, is inconsequential and banal. In this Facebook world of the present, revisiting ghosts seems easier than ever. If your life is in shambles, go back to your past and find someone else who made a mess of theirs - sounds like a vile and impotent manual for disaster. If you watch Camille Rewinds, I suggest fast forward.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2012
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French remake of Peggy Sue Got Married.
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Director: Noémie Lvovsky

Writer: Maud Ameline, Noémie Lvovsky, Pierre-Olivier Mattei, Florence Seyvos

Starring: Noémie Lvovsky, Samir Guesmi, Judith Chemla, India Hair, Julia Faure, Yolande Moreau, Michel Vuillermoz, Denis Podalydès, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Vincent Lacoste, Micha Lescot, Anne Alvaro, Mathieu Amalric, Riad Sattouf, Elsa Amiel

Year: 2012

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: France

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