Locarno Film Review: ‘Camille’

11 September 2019

Content - Film

Camille

Following his strong foray into fiction with “Hope,” director Boris Lojkine goes even further in weaving his documentary origins onto a fictional structure with “Camille,” a powerful biopic of French photojournalist Camille Lepage, who was killed in the Central African Republic in 2014 at the age of 26. While adopting a standard biopic structure that occasionally stumbles into the formulaic, The use of Lepage’s own photographs ensures the audience sees what she saw, significantly deepening our feel for the woman while making sense of her shift from enthusiastic naïf to tough yet still empathetic professional. “Camille” won the public prize at Locarno, giving a good indication of its potential on the Euro art house circuit and beyond.

While functioning as an homage to Lepage, the film is also a critique of the white-savior-in-Africa cliché: Camille (Nina Meurisse) quickly learns that her photos won’t effect change, but they will humanize a conflict. Shooting in the Central African Republic with a mixed cast and crew that included many locals, Lojkine works hard at depicting Lepage as a woman interested in people more than issues, striving to overcome an “us versus them” mentality even while acknowledging that as a white woman in Africa, she will always be seen as the “other.” The director also doesn’t try to “whitesplain” the insurgency; while there’s a brief necessary history included at the start, the film makes clear there’s more to the killings than a clear-cut story of Muslim against Christian and vice versa. Refreshingly, “Camille” refuses to be an issue film, nor is it designed to milk Lepage’s death for tragedy. Instead, it’s a tribute to a woman who tried her best to honor the subjects of her lens. Read the full article on Variety here.