It's Easier For A Camel

  • 2003
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

The rich are different, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously observed, to which actress-turned-director and screenwriter Valeria Bruni Tedeschi adds the thought that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich girl to enter the kingdom of happiness. Her semiautobiographical first feature chronicles the travails of Italian-born Federica...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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The rich are different, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously observed, to which actress-turned-director and screenwriter Valeria Bruni Tedeschi adds the thought that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich girl to enter the kingdom of happiness. Her semiautobiographical first feature chronicles the travails of Italian-born Federica (Tedeschi), whose wealthy father (Roberto Herlitzka) moved his family to France when Federica was a child to escape a rash of politically motivated kidnappings back home. Now in her thirties, Federica is consumed with guilt over her unearned good fortune and thinks people can't see past her wealth. She's right, but that's in large part because there isn't much else to see — Federica takes ballet classes but doesn't dance, talks about refusing to accept her inheritance but keeps cashing her checks, sets great emotional store by the plays she writes even though it's been ages since she's had one produced. When she refers to writing as her work, her boyfriend (Jean-Hughes Anglade) — a history professor who bootstrapped himself up from blue-collar poverty — points out peevishly that work is what people do to pay the bills; her writing is a hobby, like her idle mother's painting. Federica's emotional self-flagellation sends her scurrying to church to confess regularly; in fact, she spends so much time seeking absolution that her exhausted confessor finally feels compelled to remind her that he's a priest, not a therapist. To be sure, Federica has her share of real problems: Her beloved father is dying, her mother (Marysa Borini, Tedeschi's real-life mother) is barely coping, her sister (Chiara Mastroianni) is perpetually angry and their brother (Lambert Wilson) is frittering away his life on frivolities. But Federica's reaction to adversity is to retreat into fantasy. As a little girl she imagined winning over kidnappers by convincing them that she too was a communist. As an adult she recasts the selfish, now-married ex-boyfriend (Denis Podalydes) with whom she's having an unsatisfying affair as a dashing lothario, or pictures herself beatifically pregnant by a handsome stranger (Yvan Attal) she meets in the park. A luminous and subtle actress, Tedeschi acquits herself admirably as a director, but her material is less impressive. It's ultimately hard to care deeply about a silly, sheltered girl-woman who's taking an inordinately long time to learn that money can't buy happiness. (In French and Italian, with subtitles)

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The rich are different, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously observed, to which actress-turned-director and screenwriter Valeria Bruni Tedeschi adds the thought that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich girl to enter the king… (more)

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