Starring Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre and Carolina Bang
Written and Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Another Friday is fast approaching here in our city of Toronto and one of the joys of getting to live in a big metropolitan city such as ours is that we get to see some movies that we would never see otherwise. Opening tonight at The Royal for a short run before it hits DVD is a terrifically bizarre, hilarious and garish view of Franco era Spain as seen through the eyes of two circus clowns fighting for the affection of one woman. It’s time for “The Last Circus”.
“The Last Circus” takes us to 1937 Spain in the midst of the brutal Spanish Civil War. A “Happy” circus clown is interrupted mid-performance and forcibly recruited by a militia. Still in his costume, he is handed a machete and led into battle against National soldiers, where he single handedly massacres an entire platoon. Fast forward to 1973, the tail end of the Franco regime where Javier (Areces), the son of the infamous clown dreams of following in his father’s career footsteps but has seen too much tragedy in his life; therefore he is only equipped to play the role of the Sad Clown. He finds work in a circus where he befriends a motley crew of circus performers, but as the Sad Clown he must take the abuse of the brutish Happy Clown Sergio (de la Torre), who humiliates Javier daily in the name of entertainment. It is here that he meets Natalia (Bang), a gorgeous acrobat and abused wife of Sergio. Javier falls deeply in love with Natalia and tries to rescue her from her cruel and violent husband, unleashing Sergio’s jealousy, and Natalia is torn between her affection towards Javier and her lust for Sergio.
If you enjoy your sinister and twisted films dialed up to 11, then with “The Last Circus” you are in the right place. Director Alex de la Iglasia has crafted a world worthy of Guillermo Del Toro himself painting a funhouse mirror image of what Spain was like at the time and bathing it with Gothic imagery. Nobody ever said it would be pretty but it was fairly spectacular. With a salacious appreciation for the surreal walking the fine line between horror and ridiculous, “The Last Circus” has all the makings of a cult hit. In a matter of years this film will develop a cult following not unlike something like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” just a lot more violent and over the top.
Carlos Areces as Javier or ‘The Sad Clown’ was simply inspired as he ran the gamut of emotions from weak and scared all the way to manic and terrifying. Antonio de la Torre as Sergio or ‘The Happy Clown’ matched Areces step for step as the battle of wits between two men who turned into two maniacs was fascinating and compelling at every turn. Carolina Bang was priceless as the Natalia; she brought the crazy and indecision of woman incapable of choosing simply with the expressiveness of her wide eyes. All three of the main cast worked impeccably with one another and is the primary reason that this madness of a film actually works so well.
To put it simply “The Last Circus” was a wild ride that despite a third act that tailed off towards the predictable at the end is not something you want to miss. It’s available on DVD on October 18th, but see this on the big screen; it’s worth it.
4 out of 5 stars.
“The Last Circus” starts tonight at the Royal for one week, click here for show times.
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