Synopsis: From an age before the hardcore explicitness of Porno Chic comes a swingin’ late 60s erotic film brimming with Italian opulence, liberated sex and modish inflatable furniture.
When Marguerite, a promiscuous woman with a troubled past and a deep distrust of men meets Armand, she lets her guard down and falls in love. But can they resist old habits and latent emotions in order to stay together? Find out in this visual, sensual cinematic feast of multiple sexual partners, from the director of Score and The Opening Of Misty Beethoven.
A vivid mix of colour, grandiose set design, bizarre costumes and frank sexuality, Camille 2000 is an essential piece of erotic film history and a must see for cult movie fans.
Camille 2000 6.75
eyelights: its creative camera work. its lavish production. its sweeping locations. its lovely ladies. its sexy bits.
eyesores: its mundane plot. its lack of heat. its lack of heart.
“You’ll forget all about me after the next girl.”
For some reason, I don’t really get Radley Metzger. Here’s a filmmaker with an eye for composition and with an ambitious streak, frequently setting the stage in the most breathtaking locations possible, who even had literary aspirations.
And yet he was making erotica.
I don’t want to denigrate the genre, but it seems to me like Metzger had the potential of becoming a more polished or mainstream filmmaker, but instead spent most of his career in the genre and even spiraled into porn towards the end.
I wonder if it was choice or circumstance.
Either way, he did give the world a few erotica classics, in the form of ‘The Lickerish Quartet‘ and ‘The Image‘, and even delivered a landmark porn film with ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’. So it was not all for naught. But it’s a mystery.
‘Camille 2000’ is a motion picture that he directed in 1969, before he hit the big time with ‘The Lickerish Quartet’. Based on Alexandre Dumas’ ‘La Dame aux Camélias’, it’s a picture that inexplicably made Roger Ebert’s “Most Hated” list.
It tells the story of Armand, a wealthy young man who comes to Rome to work for his father’s business. There he falls for Marguerite, a sexy socialite – despite her warnings. They soon embark on a passionate but devastating love affair.
The picture is notable for its eye candy: set in Italian high society, it’s filled with beautiful young people and gorgeous locations. How Metzger managed to afford -and get approval- to shoot in all these stunning settings is beyond me.
And he made the most of it: he frequently found creative ways to shoot his subjects, though that was especially apparent in the more intimate shots – for instance when they make love in a modern white bed, surrounded by mirrors.
The sexy scenes aren’t particularly explicit but they’re very pleasing to the eye, between its subjects and Metzger’s camera work; when we’re not alone with the pair we’re at large, decadent parties with dozens of Marguerite’s friends.
Though these soirées start off as one’s usual mingler, they frequently end with guests indulging in sex openly – and, in the case of Olympe’s prison-themed party, start right off with an orgy. So there’s plenty of deliciousness to behold.
Unfortunately, some of them party hard; Marguerite, for instance, has a smack habit that she can’t seem to shake. And when she makes the decision to push Armand away for his own sake, she spirals out of control to dull her pain.
The performances are all adequate for the genre, but we’re never moved by the plight of the characters. Even in its more dramatic moments, for some reason we aren’t exactly compelled to sympathize with these flighty, wealthy young people.
Is it due to the caliber of the performers, who are all young? Due to a milieu which leads to its natives to superficiality? Or was the emotion lost in translation, given that they’re French characters dubbed in English, set in Italy?
Ultimately, that’s the picture’s biggest weakness. Though it never sets pulses racing, this wouldn’t matter if it had a strong emotional core. Unfortunately, Metzger wasn’t able to pull the audience in, keeping it at a constant remove.
Frankly, I don’t understand the hatred dished out on this picture by Roger Ebert. Though it’s no great masterpiece, it’s not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination – and it might even entertain certain audiences.
‘Camille 2000’ may not bring anything new to the table, rooted as it is in a literary classic, but it does benefit from the quality of its production – something that few pictures of its ilk could boast. It’s a splendid-looking film.
And though that may seem like a skin-deep accolade, it seems fitting given the context: the whole picture revolves around superficial people vapidly indulging in various excesses. I highly doubt that profundity was its chief objective.
Its a picture designed to be soft on the eyes.
And sometimes that’s okay.
Date of viewing: April 10, 2017