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LifeSize Entertainment presents
Wild Camp (Camping sauvage) (2005)

"We're not made for this world."
- Camille (Isild Le Besco)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: February 13, 2007

Stars: Denis Lavant, Isild Le Besco
Other Stars: Pascal Bongard, Yann Trégouët, Raphaëlle Misrahi, Martine Demaret, Emmanuelle Bercot
Director: Christophe Ali, Nicolas Bonilauri

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:16m:02s
Release Date: February 13, 2007
UPC: 880215103297
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-C+B- D-

DVD Review

In Sam Mendes' brilliant American Beauty, poor Kevin Spacey undergoes a life-altering experience while watching Mena Suvari perform a cheerleading routine, one that leads to epiphanies both pleasant and ugly. Directors Christophe Ali and Nicolas Bonilauri tread on similar ground in Wild Camp (Camping sauvage) to a point, inserting married-with-a-kid ex-con Denis Lavant as a man who crosses paths with teenage temptation, here in the form of free-spirited Isild Le Besco.

But unlike American Beauty, Wild Camp tilts the playing field a little differently as we are left to watch Levant slowly succumb to the thoughts he tries to suppress, and society be damned.

The setting is a rural French campground where local families come to spend the summer, living in tents or RVs, frolicking in the lake, drinking at the bar or dancing the night away. Enter Lavant's compact and craggy Blaise, fresh out of prison and ready to take a job as the camp sailing instructor as a favor from his brother-in-law, who oversees the camp's activities. Blaise strolls in like a lost hiker, and isn't on premise for two minutes before he meets Camille (Le Besco), a pouty, sexually aggressive teenager. It's clear there is mutual curiosity, but we see Blaise naturally repress it, move past it and attempt to get on with his new life.

If only it were that easy, as Camille becomes the pursuer and things give way to love and lust as Blaise becomes the camp pariah, even as he at first avoids the bold come-ons of a well-endowed young girl. The raw sexual tension—and more specifically Blaise's attempts at dismissing it—becomes more difficult to ignore as the film progresses, and we're left to watch his moral defenses whittle away to nothing, at which point the real trouble starts. And all of that comes after Blaise's wife and child pay a visit, a particularly bloody bad dream, and an ill-advised camping trip. Love is truly a bitch.

Some viewers may have to adjust their own moral compass for a film like this—as the whole older man/teenage girl affair typically exists as taboo—and directors Ali and Bonilauri paint their two star-crossed leads as randomly misguided in their own rights, but underneath it all, true to each other. It's tough to dislike either of them, even though we know what's about to happen probably can't end happily. Both Blaise and Camille have reached a point in their own lives that seems insurmountable, and that familiar searing tingle of sexual chemistry and attraction seems to make it all seem better. The narrative quickly moves to a darker, less than bubbly resolution, and all of the pensive glances and furtive touches slowly erupt into a sad extension of teenage angst.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer from LifeSize waffles between just below average to just a little below that. The print carries grain and quite a bit of shimmer and flicker throughout, which is a minor distraction; coupled with some muddy blacks during some of the night sequences, the experience is far from pristine. Daylight scenes look better, though the depth of the color palette is a bit soft.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: The film's original French language audio is provided in 2.0 stereo, available with optional English subtitles. Dialogue quality and clarity is solid, though some clipping occurs whenever voices are shouting. No major issues to complain or praise, just a standard-issue, frill-free French language stereo track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: AGI Media Packaging
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras, with the exception of the original French-language trailer. The disc is cut into 10 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Don't be put off by the title or odd cover art, because this one explores some rather touchy issues with a heady mix of sex and morality. Two wonderful performances from Denis Lavant and Isild Le Besco—who put a new spin on the meaning of summer romance—prove that love (or lust) at first sight apparently knows no age limits.

Tragic, romantic, and highly recommended (even with a less than perfect image transfer).


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