Monday, May 14, 2012

REVIEW: The Last Circus

The Last Circus
Director: Alex de la Iglesia
Year 2010
The Last Circus is an insanely demented journey, filled with murder, mayhem and a hefty helping of creepy clown action that will scare the shit out of anyone diagnosed with Coulrophobia. This movie is literally off the hinges as it tells a sorted story of one man’s excruciating quest in finding happiness amidst his mostly sorrow-filled life and the inevitable explosion that commences once he is pushed to the limit. The moral of the story is, don’t piss off a clown.
The film follows a down trotted dreamer named Javier who longs to follow in the footsteps of his father and perform as a happy clown, but because of his tragic upbringing he is forced to take on the role of the sad clown. After joining a rag tag circus, Javier meets a beautiful acrobat named Natalia who instantly infatuates him, but unfortunately for Javier she has an abusive boyfriend named Sergio who just so happens to be the happy clown to their dynamic duo circus act. Plagued by the exquisite beauty of Natalia and the brutal treatment she is subject to at the hands of Sergio, Javier reaches a breaking point to where there is no chance of returning from. Changing into a monster, Javier snaps, becoming the very opposite of the sad passive clown he was known for and instead morphs into a mad, crazed killer with a lust for violence. Taunted by a life with Natalia that he could never obtain, Javier loses himself in his own delusional fantasy, making it his sole purpose to end the life of Sergio, no matter what, and save the innocent Natalia from the overbearing grip of her oppressor. This tragic tale pulls no punches as it vividly showcases the mental and physical descent of a man on the brink of sanity, but longing to live a normal life. Let the insanity begin!

Carlos Areces plays the role of Javier, the tragic face of the sad clown and poster boy for every single love struck loser out there that always played the nice guy but never got the girl. Carlos does an amazing job in this role, which demands a great range of emotions to be projected over the course of the film. He goes from a mild mannered pacifist in the beginning portions of the movie, to a bat-shit crazy lunatic towards the second act of the story, with little to no wiggle room in between. The change in his personality is so polar opposite that you’ll find yourself struggling to comprehend that the two personas are actually played by the same actor. Carlos’ transformation into the vengeful clown with a chip on his shoulder is animalistic at best and extremely beastlike in its savagery. It also doesn’t hurt that the man can wear a creepy clown outfit like it’s no ones business, making the visual effects of his makeup and costume that more impressive and intimidating. If I had to pick a highlight of the film, it would be Carlos’ portrayal of Javier and his devastating transformation into the vengeful and violence prone clown.
Antonio de la Torre takes on the role of Javier’s nemesis and all around bad guy, Sergio the happy clown. With the title of happy clown, you would think that Sergio was a terrific dude, but damn is this guy an asshole. He beats the shit out of his girlfriend on a daily basis, treats the rest of the circus folk like shit, and basically acts like a prick 24 hours a day. Now I don’t know a thing about Antonio de la Torre and what he is like personally, but he has made one hell of an outstanding jerk in this flick. What is most interesting about his character is that he never really changes his attitude as the film progresses, but you find yourself sympathizing with him as the story moves along. I’m not saying that you end up loving the guy, but you find that you hate him a bit less once the film closes. It’s an interesting turn of events, but amidst the chaotic moments that encompass The Last Circus, you’ll come to find that there are a good many outstanding performances made by the cast across the board. Antonio takes this role and runs with it, making for a very memorable villain that has some very human tendencies.

Another stand out amongst the cast is the lovely Carolina Bang, who embodies the role of Natalia the breathtaking acrobat caught between the admirations of two polar opposite men. Carolina has the looks to pull off the role on the superficial front, but it is in the more subtle moments of the film that her acting chops really get a chance to show off. Like Carlos’ Javier character, Carolina is able to show that Natalia has a double edged sword when it comes to her varying personalities. When she is with Sergio she is quiet and conservative and when she is with Javier she is wild and alive. These two opposing personas are acted superbly by Carolina and she tackles both of these sides of her character with miraculous perfection. She does this so well that you’ll find yourself loving and hating her character at the same time. There are moments when you believe that she just might truly care for Javier’s underdog character, only to pull the rug right out from under you and come off as a selfish shrew that only used him to build up her own personal confidence and self worth. Her role is essential to the eventual collapse of Javier’s life and she nails that titular aspect that sparks all of this mayhem into action.
Now let’s talk about this mayhem. For one thing there is no shortage of bedlam once the story gets moving. We get machine gun and machete wielding clowns, brutal violence inflicted on both Javier and Sergio’s characters, mad as hell hallucinatory visions provided by Javier’s bat-shit crazy mind, and enough savage imagery to shake a stick at. This movie is literally off the rails when it comes to sanity and composure, yet you won’t find a more cohesive and intricate story about insane clowns battling it out for the affections of one woman and you can bet your ass on that one. If there is one thing I can say about this film that could summarize the overall quality of Alex de la Iglesia’s manic masterpiece it’s that it is vividly brutal and exceptionally genuine in its execution. Bravo for making such a crazy concept like a clown love triangle and make it work so well.

The Last Circus is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You may have witnessed the same basic plot of a love triangle tearing the lives of the characters apart before, but you’ve never seen it done in such an outlandish style or fervent vigor. Carlos Areces plays the perfect pushover and to witness his descent into the bloodthirsty and wild killer clown is a thing of demented beauty. Equally, Antonio de la Torre does a commendable job as the thorn in Javier’s side as he pushes him to violence and to the overall reveal of the demented tendencies that lie in waiting behind the mind of the mild mannered Javier. Rounding out this motley crew of weirdos is the mesmerizing Carolina Bang, who brings a much needed facelift of beauty to the circus that is this film.
Combined with the fact that the movie boasts a diverse cast and an interesting premise, what really holds it all together is the impressive direction of Alex de la Iglesia. Alex is a filmmaker who is known for his expressive style and trademark antics and he puts all of the cards on the table in this film. With its lush visual style and over the top situations, The Last Circus is an obscure gem that you absolutely can’t miss. This flick is one crazy ass…..

Let the nightmares begin!

Do you think I put too much makeup on?

Please don't do that. It's really annoying.

This is just too weird to comment on.

God I hate that mustache.

Natalia.... the cock-teaser from HELL!

The boy is a P...I....G.... PIG!

Here's CLOWNY!

I just wet the bed!


What a psycho!

Holy Shit! What a PSYCHO!

What the hell is going on?!?!

I'm freaking out!

That annoying clown is behind me again isn't he?

A salute to cleavage.

Why so serious?

Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends?


  1. Just wanted to let you know that I followed the link you posted on imdb. Having seen Mad Circus yesterday, I'm still undecided what to make of it. Regardless of my dilemma, keep on doing the good work

  2. Thanks, yeah the movie is a little crazy and understandably vexing after viewing. I think that's part of what draws me to the film, that it really isn't easily defined. Thanks for checking out the review and give this bat shit crazy film another go, it might just grow on you.