The Last Circus
- Henry Northmore
- 20 June 2011
This article is from 2011.
A tale of clowns, circus life, love and madness in this Spanish black comedy/horror
The latest film from writer/director Alex de la Iglesia is almost unclassifiable, a love story, a black comedy and horror all apply and as fans of his Accion Mutante (1992) will know it’s this glorious mess of ideas and themes that makes for such a bizarre and electrifying trip.
The action starts in 1937 as young Javier (Sasha de Bendetto) watches his father (Santiago Segura) and his fellow circus stars forcibly recruited into the armed struggle against Franco. ‘A clown with a machete, you’ll scare the shit out of them,’ being his new commanders encouraging words. After much bloodshed we cut to 1973 as Javier (now played by Carlos Areces) joins the circus as a ‘Sad Clown’, a circus brutally ruled over by Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), the ‘Happy Clown’. But Javier falls for the stunning trapeze artist Natalia (Carolina Bang) who unfortunately is also the abusive Sergio’s girlfriend. Setting in motion a descent into madness that ends with two disfigured clowns battling atop a gigantic stone cross.
The circus setting is perfect for this dark love story with flashes of the surreal, a baroque blur of fantasy mixed with violence. While not as wilfully insane as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Sante Sangre it’s treads the same ground. Horrific, gruesome, funny and visually compelling.
Please note: at the press screening for the last 15 mins (approx) the subtitles were about 30 seconds out of sync, which was confusing and distracting, hopefully this will have been rectified by the public screening - but you have been warned.