Camping with Camus
Lust lands him in trouble. Can philosophy get him out?
Far from the cafes of the Seine’s Left Bank, Uncle Blick pursues a rich intellectual life. The caravan park, suburbia shrunk and transported, is Uncle Blick’s domain. A lesser mind may have succumbed to the grotesque proximity of fellow campers, the obscene clutter of Rodney’s nine year old imagination, but Blick is reading his favourite philosopher Albert Camus. In his head at least, he lights another Gauloise, orders a third Pernod and gets down to metaphysics with other fine minds.
Camping with Camus is a movie of ideas and the itch of lust. It is lightly comic and seriously absurd. It is the story of the beleaguered but noble state of the intellectual in contemporary life and a lascivious old man who uses smart tricks to seduce and get away with it.
But philosophy also fails in the film. Apprentice philosopher Hugh manages to talk his way out of the arms of Phyllis. Lovely, frank and by far the most pleasant character in the camp, Phyllis is wise to Blick’s bullshit and open to Hugh’s awkward tenderness. Fuck Socrates, she says. But Hugh is too much in awe of the world to take such sensible advice.
Phyllis’ mother Rayleen understands Blick best. His rich exposition of the gloriesof cricket bowls her over. She is happy to play along with his ruse to get her into his caravan. He’s no oil painting but then neither is she and at their age desire moves the mind well before the flesh.
In the end Rodney’s sharp literal mind is no match for Blick’s experience and theatrical daring. But Blick’s camping ground triumph is at odds with the world outside where the mean, clinical and ugly mostly win. For the ten minutes of Camping with Camus, enjoy Blick’s absurd flourish and small victory.