Why did the Koala fall out of the tree…because it was dead. If you find this joke even mildly amusing you may be able to find enjoyment in Álex de la Iglesia’s “The Last Circus.” This movie deserves nothing but credit for sticking to its guidelines of humor and storytelling. “The Last Circus” is so excessively serious, violent, and obscure that it crosses some vague cerebral checkpoint into the realm of hilarity. Seeing a clown hack apart a platoon with a machete is somehow hilarious.
“The Last Circus” tells the story of Javier (Carlos Areces), a sad-clown making his debut at a prestigious spanish circus. His father was a funny-clown that was forced into battle during the Spanish Civil War. With a lack of firearms, he is only armed with a machete while still garbed in his clown attire. His father’s last bit of advice was not to become a funny-clown for his life is too wrought with misery. His destiny is to become a sad-clown and the only way to achieve happiness is with revenge.
Back to 1973 where Javier is the sad-clown to the abusive funny-clown, Sergio (Antonio de ld Torre). Day after day, Sergio pummels Javier with pianos, bowling pins, and other random acts of violence. Javier endears for the sake of children’s laughter. Then Javier meets Sergio’s girlfriend, Natalia (Carolina Bang). She’s a gorgeous and rambunctious trapeze artist. She willingly accepts the constant verbal and physical abuse, for her love of Sergio trumps any form of punishment. Seeing that Javier shares her plight, and that he’s a genuinely compassionate human being, Natalia becomes attracted to him. The brutality from Sergio has become so commonplace that the rest of the circus doesn’t even notice it.
Javeir lets his frustration boil until he violently bursts out against Sergio. He pummels Sergio so brutally, that Javier must run away and live in the woods. His naked isolation is a perfect backdrop to do some soul searching and discover the clown within. This movie was violent before, but it only escalates as the movie goes on. Javeir eventually embraces himself for who he is and becomes the revenge-clown, hellbent on saving Natalia!
This movie is funny, but it is almost impossible to describe why? “Hey man, you gotta check out this movie. There’s this abusive boyfriend that beats his girlfriend so much that it’s hilarious.” Or, “Hey bud, check out this movie, some dude uses an iron to burn perpetual clown makeup on his face and then runs around town with a bunch of uzis.” It’s a hard sell, but it’s worth it.
This movie is incredibly well crafted. It’s performances, set design, script, cinematography, and direction are all nothing sort of fantastic. The most impressive part is that all this quality and talent is focused towards such a wacky and violent film. Keep in mind, this film is not grounded anywhere near reality. The world of “The Last Circus” is more like a nightmare after too much nyquil and a 103 degree fever. Also, you were watching cirque du soleil all day to try and distract yourself from the sore throat and fell asleep during a “SAW” marathon.
Here is my guess to what’s going to happen to “The Last Circus.” In six years the cool guy in college will own a bootleg of it. Then he’ll host a crappy party that will only have theater geeks and lame dudes attend. In an attempt to spice up the party, he’ll put on “The Last Circus” as background. People will be engrossed by the visuals and they’ll lower the music to try to understand what’s going on. The majority of the group will love it while the others will spread the word of its insanity. It’ll spread around colleges for about two years and then those kids will graduate and then BAM! “The Last Circus” will become a cult classic. It happened to “Boondock Saints,” “The Princess Bride,” and “The Dark Backward.” Wait…”The Dark Backward” isn’t a cult classic? Why the hell not?