I’m not quite sure Camino knows what it wants to be, the tag line states that An Angel Lives Among Us, but the film utalises some wickedly good black humour that creates a real treat of a film that will not only agitate you, but make you smile and laugh at the reality that only two of the main characters realise.
Camino is loosely based on the true story of a thirteen-year-old girl, who despite having an overtly religious and controlling mother, is full of life and wants nothing more than to join the local theater group and perform opposite her schoolyard crush.
The problem is that her mother is absolutely devoted to the Opus Dei sect. Rather than buy her whimsical childhood books, her mother insists on giving her classics texts on Catholic saints. In the background we see Camino’s fathers heart breaking, over and over again as he feel powerless to prevent his wife from destroying his daughter’s childhood.
As if life wasn’t harsh enough for young Camino, increasingly worsening back pain forces her to see a specialist, revealing that she has a rare cancer of the spine. Hospitalised, Camino’s mother is ‘encouraged’ to move her to an Opus Dei hospital that is better equipped to help her. This goes ahead against the wishes of Camino and her father, who will now have to travel back and forth, between work and the hospital.
But her mothers blind devotion – one that has her oldest daughter all but locked up in an Opus Dei center, being forcibly taught self denial, and not allowed access to her family – is only encouraged by the hospital staff and then by the resident Priest who suggests that Camino’s persistent acts of selflessness (mainly forced by her mother) and calling out to Jesus could have her on tract to sainthood, especially if she dies with a smile on her face and the name of her saviour on her lips.
Whilst Camino may sound like an overtly anti-religious film, it doesn’t go out of it’s way to try and discredit faith. Sure, Opus Dei are squarely in the spotlight, and not in a good way, but Camino, despite her mother retains her humanity, largely due to the honest and true (and oft hidden) love of her father, and it’s easy to see how father and daughter could have flourished if they were not under the constant shadow of her mother. Camino’s father is quiet, as is his faith, it’s his love of his family that is the motivating force of his personality, and it’s this side of the film the drives it’s heart, and creates the most tantalisingly ironic black humour.
Sure, if you’re a member of the Opus Dei, or have a fairly traditional religious faith, you could be easily offended by this story – at least the way Javier Fesser tells it – but for most level headed people, it’s an enjoyable – if occasionally disturbing and upsetting – story that will have your heart soaring to new heights despite having to plunge to the depths of despair on the way.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Release date: June 10th, 2010
Stars: Nerea Camacho, Carme Elias, Mariano Venancio
Length (Minutes): 143
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Director: Fesser, Javier