Camino† DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 9.5
Audio 8.5
Special Features   N/A
Total 8.0
Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 145 minutes
Classification: M15+
Reviewer: M15+PG

8.0


Camino 

In the opening scene of Javier Fesserís highly-regarded Camino, we are introduced not only to 14 year old Alexia Gonzalez Barros, a Barcelona native slowly wilting under the onslaught of cancer, but to her mother, priest and members of the Opus Dei congregation to which the Barros clan belongs.  The sequence is artfully staged, and manages to pulsate with both significance and a subtle undercurrent of menace; Alexiaís mother and the attendant throng seem more concerned with her journey into the next life than with her physical, emotional or spiritual comfort in this one. 

The rest of the film is told largely as a series of flashbacks, reminiscences and dream sequences.  We see an 11 year old Alexia (Nerea Camacho) seemingly in the prime of adolescence; she enjoys school, has plenty of friends and is looking forward to taking part in a local drama troupeís production of Cinderella.  She soon begins to suffer mysterious, agonising pains, however, and it isnít long before the dreaded diagnosis is made. 

Camino is based on true events, and even now Alexia is being considered for beautification by the Catholic Church for the stoic manner is which she bore the ravages of her illness.  The film is not simply a passive recitation of events or a formulaic and soul-stirring morality piece; Fesser is highly critical of what he perceives as the manner in which Catholic sect Opus Dei have exploited the extended suffering of the teen, and pulls no punches in depicting the cultish, secretive and stringently conservative nature of the organisation.  He also devotes much time to the impact of the church on Alexiaís family; her elder sister Nuria is cloistered in an isolated Opus Dei centre and her mother grows increasingly rigid in her adherence to Opus Deiís restrictive doctrine.  Her doting father Jose simply attempts to put his love for his daughters before all other considerations, but his efforts are continually superseded by those of both his wife and his church. 

Regardless of its agenda the film has been superbly shot and looks uniquely stunning, with a vibrancy and cleverly attenuated colour palette intermingling at all times.  Alex Catalanís superb cinematography is complemented by a first-rate transfer, and picture quality is crisp throughout.  The 5.1 Castellano soundtrack is likewise impressive, and though there are no bonus features to speak of the 2 Ĺ hour runtime doesnít exactly leave you feeling short changed. 

Camino picked up no less than six gongs at the Goya awards, Spainís equivalent of the Oscars, and despite its extremely limited release schedule worldwide has received enthusiastic praise from critics.

It is a rich, engaging and deeply measured meditation on the nature of faith, the meaning of suffering, and both the redemptive and the punitive consequences of blind adherence to a religion.  Itís certainly a weighty and melodramatic outing, but itís been so adroitly crafted by Fesser and the performances are so sublime, particularly that of the young Camacho, that more often that not it soars.

 






 
 



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