Haunted by childhood memories of his father's murder, Frank Carroll, private detective/circus clown, sets out on a mission of vengeance. Jingles Carroll, a gentle man in a red nose, was ... See full summary »
Haunted by childhood memories of his father's murder, Frank Carroll, private detective/circus clown, sets out on a mission of vengeance. Jingles Carroll, a gentle man in a red nose, was gunned down in cold blood by Max & Fudge, two members of a secret society, as his young son watched in horror. Now, twenty years later, Frank strikes back. Written by
This grittty film is the best candidate for a classic cult film that I've seen in a long time.
Be forewarned if you happen to maintain some childhood phobia of clowns, because they tote guns, contract hits, sniff glue and drink their highballs straight from the bottle in Nick Taylor's indie film, A Clown in Babylon. The story follows the path of a hardened clown-cum-private eye named Frank, played brilliantly by Gene Canfield(Scent of a Woman), who is haunted by the murder of his father, Jingles, and obsessed with seeking revenge on the perpetrators. Jingles was murdered in front of a young Frank, after having an affair with a sexy midget tight-rope walker who already belonged to a pair of evil clowns. Along with his one-armed, alcoholic juggler compatriot, Bob, played by Charles Balcer, Frank infiltrates the clown underworld where he finds secret societies, strung-out entertainers, oedipal complexes and broken lives. Though discovering the truth about his father, and unveiling the mystery behind Buddy Holly's death, Frank comes to realize how distorted truth and justice can become in a world wrought with decay and unhappiness. Taylor's film sounds ridiculous, but he is able to tame all of his outrageous characters and their predicaments into a film that coheres in everything but it's distorted view of clown reality. Flashback sequences are brilliantly shot in a pale, rough style, then woven perfectly in and out of the narrative to fully develop Frank as a character. Taylor also effectively utilizes the jump cut throughout the film, toying with any notion of stability. The screenplay is harsh and explicit, but superb acting translates the rather laconic script into a succinct plot. There's an undertone of religion and a question of mortality throughout the film, and Taylor toys with the notion that "we are not our bodies" and that "all flesh is grass." If his intention was to depict the fragility of flesh and uncertainty, Taylor certainly contrived a brittle world in which Frank must accept the truth no matter how horrifying or banal it might be.
Hey, flesh is only painted on in clown world anyway.
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