Title: The Last Circus
Starring: Carlos Areces, Antonio De La Torre, Carolina Bang
Director: Alex De La Iglesia
Review Written by: Karen Benardello (for Shockya)
Finding a director who wants to introduce a personal, political message into a comedy that features strange characters is not common, but Magnet Releasing seemed to do so with Alex De La Iglesia. His childhood and personal life seem to define his upcoming film ‘The Last Circus,’ which he also wrote. While he wanted to incorporate his pain, cruelty and love into the personalities of his characters, Iglesia’s devotion to them unfortunately took away from the overall story.
‘The Last Circus’ follows Javier (played by Carlos Areces as an adult) throughout his life in the circus. As a child in 1937, Javier watches his father, a happy clown, being dragged away by a militia during a performance to help fight in the Spanish Civil War. Affected by the fact that his father subsequently was held as a prisoner, Javier becomes a sad circus clown in 1973. While he befriends many of the other circus acts, Javier must endure the abuse of the happy clown, Sergio (portrayed by Antonio De La Torre).
Javier also must watch Sergio abuse his wife Natalia (played by Carolina Bang), one of the circus’ acrobats. After falling in love with Natalia, Javier tries to rescue her from her violent husband, which only makes Sergio even angrier. Natalia is unsure what to do, as she still cares for Sergio, but also becomes attracted to Javier.
Iglesia has said he wanted to set ‘The Last Circus’ in 1973, as Spanish leader Francisco Franco was giving up his control over the country. Iglesia, who was eight that year, has described the time as a confusing nightmare, and he perfectly brought his childhood struggle to the story. Javier and Sergio are both struggling to survive the terrible lifestyles they have endured, and they balance each other as they deal with their problems. They both seek salvation in entertaining families while performing with the circus and in their love for Natalia. Iglesia, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, brought an interesting take to his two male lead characters, showing that everyone takes on a different personality to redeem their souls.
The director seemed to especially pour himself into Javier; Iglesia has said he made ‘The Last Circus’ to rid the pain from his own soul. He added that he feels hurt from his past, and longs for a happy life. Javier seemed to turn to the sad clown role to redeem himself for not being able to save his father when he was a child. He also wants to connect to Natalia to form a happy relationship, but his anger over his father’s imprisonment held his happiness back.
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