Mary O’Brian is a nursing student, she’s struggling to make ends meet but it’s proving difficult to pay her rent and tuition. She’s never had any real luck and has no family to fall back on. She’s tempted by the lure of being a cam girl, a girl who videos herself for Johns that pay good money for this strange type of entertainment to fulfill their fantasies. Should she, or shouldn’t she? It’s tempting, it’s free and it pays well. But at what cost? Mary’s world is about to get very complicated as a dark and sinister force becomes obsessed with her, watching her, waiting for the right moment and for Mary to go too far. ..
I guess it isnβt always fair for me to write off a film as something it isnβt after only watching fifteen minutes. βCam Girlβ is a film that almost starts off as nothing more than some sort of sexploitation flick where there is non-stop nudity for almost the entire fifteen minutes. Then I began to realize that there was only one actor in this film. For a lovely young lady in her first starring role in an experimental film where she has to carry the entire weight of the character, the emotional side and sensual side, and make it interesting for the films entire runtime is a serious task for any actress. I have to say that Layla Randle-Conde does a very nice job doing just that.
Mary (Layla Randle-Conde) is a student by day and a web cam girl by night. Times are tough and money is tight. She is behind on her rent and not many options left. She is given a choice, one that could change her forever. She spends night after night on the web dancing and talking with these men who she believes to be thousands of miles away. One thing leads to another and she soon finds out that thereβs much more to the situation than she could have ever imagined. From online admirers to sleazy landlords. From hidden messages to lost souls, will she ever know the truth of what lies in waiting for her.
Lets get this out of the way first. The films sole star spends the majority of the film either undressing, undressed, or getting dressed. At times it was a bit distracting and maybe a bit much. Layla is clearly comfortable in front of a camera whether she has clothes on or not. And sheβs an incredibly attractive woman so it isnβt exactly a bad thing. Once the story begins to role and we learn more about her character, the less you think about the naked lady and the more you see a rich character developing. We learn about her through voice over narration, phone conversations with her friend Charlotte, and while she is chatting online (which is transcribed onscreen like subtitles when she is performing a show or someone responds to her). Though there is a hint of exploitation, we learn much about Mary (who uses the name Rose online).
She is a bit of a stereotype and at the same time a bit of a complex character. Without giving away too much, we already know she is a nursing student trying to put herself through school. She lost her father and she has lost her faith. She cannot pay her landlord rent and he gives her a choice. If she will have sex with him, then he will let it slide. Itβs a choice she needs to make and one that will change her forever or cost her purity. She thinks she knows who her stalker is, leaving roses in various places around her apartment, leaving messages. So much happens in such a short time and it never feels overwhelming. Much credit is given to Layla and she has a bright career ahead of her.
The film is shot in a very voyeuristic fashion which is very fitting since we are dealing with that exact subject matter. And as much as the film is a showcase for Randle-Conde, it is also a showcase for several bands and musicians whose music is featured prominently during several montage sequences. Most notable is the filmβs title track βCam Girlβ by Corjan. Itβs a haunting ballad that really caught my ear. Other artists with songs featured in the film are No Redemption, Freakhouse, and Crystal Kovach.
This film isnβt for everyone and I didnβt think it was going to be for me either. βCam Girlβ is an experiment in filmmaking that takes the viewer into the life of a woman who is headed down a dark path. We share in her pleasure, her frustration, her routine, and in her pain. A very satisfying film. Philip Gardiner and crew should be commended for their work behind the scenes as well as Layla Randle-Conde for her fearlessness.