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Reviews & Ratings for
The Last Circus More at IMDbPro »Balada triste de trompeta (original title)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: The Last Circus

Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
7 April 2012

A bizarre love triangle set against the historical backdrop of Spain from the 30s to the 70s, with fantastical elements thrown in for good measure, complete with grotesque images that firmly puts this amongst cult favourites demanding an acquired taste. It won writer-director Alex de la Iglesia a Silver Lion at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, and so I'm quite surprised it actually did make it to our shores some two years later given a subject material that is steeped in Spanish history with its allegories, without which it may just appear to be a violently dark film.

It begins in 1937 where a laughing clown is in the process of entertaining children, but for the Spanish Republican militia to rudely interrupt the circus act to conscript every able bodied man to fight off the insurgent Loyalist forces. The clown is given a machete and he proceeds to really hack off countless of adversary soldiers, before being put down, jailed and soon gets sent to work on the Valle de los Caidos. He leaves his son Javier with advice to be the sad clown because Javier had lost his childhood with the war, and we fast forward to the 70s where the now grown up Javier (Carols Areces) finally heeds his dad's advice and got a job as a sad clown, playing opposite the laughing clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), a sadist behind the makeup, but so popular that he's single-handedly responsible for the circus' financial viability.

Of all people, Javier has to fall in love with Sergio's wife, the acrobat Natalia (Carolina Bang), who herself is quite the cock-tease for stringing Javier along, who personifies the type of girl who just cannot pull herself away from the bad boy. Javier insists that she leaves Sergio during one of their secret outings at night, and soon the entire narrative blows apart when Sergio catches them together, and beats the living daylights out of both. Here's where everything becomes a little bizarre, with Javier seeking revenge and almost killing Sergio, if not for their fellow circus troupe members sending him for emergency surgery at the nearest vet, causing disfiguring and in essence, puts his inner, ugly personality on the outside for all and sundry. As for Javier, he hides out in a cave stark naked, feeding on animals who drop in, before being caught by a one-time enemy, humiliated, and in a dream sequence, becomes the violent, angel of death strapped with every conceivable gun, going on a rampage to get his lady love back.

While the narrative may be strangely held together by plots that don't really connect, with disparate scenes and sequence of events, it is the imagery that gets put on screen that becomes somewhat magnetic to watch, keeping one glued to how everything would turn out, especially since violence has now entered the picture. Alex de la Iglesia challenges you to keep watching even as he presents some of the vividly horrific scenes of self-mutilation as Javier literally turns into the sad clown, and a gun toting one at that, driven to madness just for the unattainable love of a woman who repeatedly continues to spurn this one time gentle giant of a man, for a drunken who can satisfy her fetish for violent sex. de la Iglesia never shied away from fusing history into his plot, with old newsreel interruptions to point out specific historical milestones that ties in with the story he wants to tell, but the best parts as the film wore on was the battle between the two clowns, with a final shot that's really quite poignant as they become truly who they are, with make pretense in an arena turning into actual, permanent emotions.

If you're up for a film that can easily be a staple in fantastic film festivals, then The Last Circus will be right up your alley. Otherwise the narrative may border a little on the unbelievably absurd, coincidental, and may not actually make much sense, and easily become B-grade exploitative fare if not for its love triangle that connects the protagonist together, and the strong statements Alex de la Iglesia has depicting the tumultuous, violent history of the country.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It's a mad world

Author: kosmasp
23 March 2012

Carolina Bang (or in this case her character) is a woman you can understand getting crazy about. But of course that is not all, that is hidden in this movie. Some story threads may only be comprehensible to those who have studied Spanish history (especially the beginning is really out there). I couldn't tell, because it seems detached from the rest of the movie.

But as the German title of the movie suggests (Mad Circus), there is this other world, where our main characters live at. And while we have a protagonist, you will find it very difficult to describe him as a hero for many reasons. Alex de la Iglesias has done quite a lot of movies and many of them are controversial. And it's not different with this one. It is completely crazy at times (or mostly?) and seems to lose its narrative through it all. But if you stick with it, you'll get one seriously OTT finale ...

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Circus Jerk

Author: Aristides-2 from United States
22 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Alex de la Iglesia gets high marks for his studying of Fellini's films and being able to translate this via his talent into a exciting-to-watch visual style. But then we have the context of the movie's story, which depicts the sadistic-masochistic yearnings of a middle-aged self-abuser, as the movie slips into a cauldron of blood, cruelty and gore. The tradition of Bunuel continues though. That is, the scrutiny of Spain's society;late thirties to the seventies, deformed by an oppressive Catholic-inspired, fascistic and long lived government. Missing is any of the humanity that Bunuel and Fellini imbued some or all of their stories with. I found this movie quite disgusting to experience.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

This movie is shockingly awesome :)

Author: abkdiamonds411 from USA
10 September 2012

If you don't like violence, this movie is not for you. This may be the maddest love triangle movie of all time. I don't want to say too much because not really having a clue what it is about and being SHOCKED is half of why I think I liked it so much. Again, if you don't like violence don't watch it. My mother would hate this movie. Which is usually a good indication that I will like it. If I were going to categorize it, it's a psychological thriller/romantic tragedy gone completely MAD. You can't put this movie in a category really, I've never seen anything quite like it. I'm not much into reading subtexts but for some reason, with this movie I didn't mind.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The only film to ever make me care about clowns,

Author: Cody Rapp (biscutbuu69) from United States
13 July 2014

The plot Fallows Javier the new, shy depressed and mentally disturbed sad clown at the circus who falls in love with a trapeze artist whose boyfriend is brutally abusive and mentally disturbed as well, and now she must choose between them.

'The last Circus' is a brilliant film well made well acted and written the lighting gives it the very colorful yet at the same time gray and depressing look. a very sad and yet at the same time. An entertaining and funny film never before has a film ever made me care about a character that is a clown and just so you know I freaking hate clowns This film seems like a film that Tarantino or Miike would make, it really does. This is one of those movies here it will make your jaw drop one second and make you cry the next then cringe ten laugh its one of those films that mixes genres so well and it makes its own genre of film I call it a clown-drama film because this one mixes elements the horror of clowns, the drama of depression and the comedy of clowns which while they are not actually funny they still are relevant with comedy. This is not a film I could recommend to anyone with a weak stomach or with an affinity to violence because this is more graphic than a Tarantino flick even on the level of Miike's violence and the effects are all very well done even the CGI blood was good looking to the point where it took me a while to realize it was CGI. The film doesn't get its horror twist to it till the last 30 or 40 minutes when everything just takes a turn. there is some CGI that is pretty bad though but the film is enjoyable, smart, and funny enough to make it worth while. 10/10

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Anyone with only bad things to say about this film clearly knows nothing about film to begin with

Author: (Kingdecoy37) from United States
24 April 2012

I find it hard to believe that someone can come on here and do nothing but bash this film. People who claim to "have seen a lot of films", and people who "fought to hold their food down". Maybe these people have never felt the injustices of the world and the mental toll they can take on a person over time. When talking about the sudden and rapid shifts in tone and mood, I feel like I'm experiencing the same mental and emotional turmoil as these two clowns of destruction. Being reduced to the basic carnal behaviors of jealousy when fighting for the woman they love. Now the thing is, it's all being done in the sense of a black comedy. The hyper violence of the movie has a natural born killers approach to satire. The gore isn't important in the movie. It's just an added bonus to the types of people who would honestly enjoy this film to begin with. The true underlying message is the extremes people have gone to for the love of another person. Not the dialogue, not the violence, not the "fat sadistic clown". This movie is something that has never been done before, which is a plus right of the bat. It's not meant to be taken completely serious. If you feel it was just randomized crap with buckets of blood thrown in, then you missed the point, and this film wasn't meant for you. So please just sit down shut up and watch the movie

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

After a beautiful 1st hour, the remaining ¾ hour disappointed completely

Author: JvH48 from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
23 April 2011

I saw this film as part of the "Imagine" film festival 2011 in Amsterdam. It made a promising start with a good exposition of the main characters involved, the setting in which they lived (circus, civil war, etc), and personal motives behind dramatic developments later on. Actors did a great job, pictures well shot, and a perfectly fitting musical score supported the events on screen. I was fully in the mood to watch the remainder of a perfect movie. All necessary ingredients were there.

However, after an hour my appreciation changed 180 degrees. There were too many improbable situations, unrealistic events, and several inconsistencies in the story line. Apart from that, the overload of self inflicted injuries and mutual violence started to annoy me. Equally dramatic developments might have been possible with much less blood. On top of that, the finale disappointed grossly. It was obviously intended to be spectacular, but it completely failed in that respect. I did not expect a happy ending for most of the main characters, but such a massive amount of deaths and severe injuries is uncalled for.

When leaving the theater, I nevertheless gave a "satisfactory" score for the public prize competition, compensating the bad parts in the last ¾ hour with the good parts that made up the first hour. These film makers can do it, apparently, when they avoid their inclination to impress us with spectacular settings and special effects. I certainly hope they will in their next production.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Art House Slasher

Author: summerfilmsonbigscreen
25 July 2011

The Last Circus is the first Álex de la Iglesia film that I've seen. It didn't exactly make me a fan, but it did offer exactly the kind of distasteful, yet competent entertainment the trailer promised. The story starts in the year of 1937, when a clown act is interrupted by soldiers recruiting members for their Spanish civil war. This is followed by brutal, partly sped-up action, and more of it is to come later.

We move to 1973 and see what's become of the old clown's son living under the crazy Franco regime. He's a middle aged, overweight man who's become a clown like his father. A sad clown, with homicidal tendencies. The portrayal of the rivalrous love triangle involving the overly sensitive Javier (Carlos Areces), drunken macho Sergio (Antonio de la Torre) and playful, masochistic Natalia (Carolina Bang) aims for a kind of "magical reality", succeeding to a degree.

Because of the carnival setting, it's easy to draw comparisons with Fellini's La Strada on that front, but I have no problem making comparisons with Burton's Batman (with two Jokers and no Batman) or why not a really messed up version of Scorsese's Taxi Driver. I don't think it's a spoiler to say in the end none of the surviving characters know whether to laugh or cry. I think that sums up the film neatly. Take it or leave it, but don't bring children. And don't choose this for a first date, unless she's a horror freak.

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0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's a film about clowns.

Author: lee prew from london
24 August 2011

Having watched the trailer and read a few reviews I was looking forward to watching this film. I was impressed with the first section of the film and thought I knew where it was going. Sadly the film lost its way for me quickly after the first act and the plot pretty much disappeared.

In no way did I like any of the lead characters and felt no compassion to their plights. The background characters were just as flat as the leads. A few slapstick moments kinda made me think this film could have been a whole lot darker had we actually seen more comedy mixed with horror. The story as it is has more in common with King Kong or The The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and although I understood the backdrop of the civil war at the beginning I have no idea if the rest of the film was supposed to be a clever analogy; nor did I really care.

I found it apt that the two main characters go into a haunted house at a fairground as this pretty much summarised the film for me. A scary and interesting looking building at the entrance (with a brief bit of history)then through the door. A few shocks and grotesque moments with no narrative to back them up later and your exiting through a bland swing door. And as with exiting any fairground haunted houses I'm always left feeling I could have spent my time and money better elsewhere.

This story had potential, but it would seem that they decided to jump off that particular path and delve into exploring madness, but for some reason not as far as they should have. A well shot film with moments that could have made a great film but sadly floundered and lurched its way to a silly climax.

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10 out of 27 people found the following review useful:


Author: Andres Salama from Buenos Aires, Argentina
6 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having admired and enjoyed a lot of Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's previous movies (especially Ferpect Crime, 800 bullets and La Comunidad), I found this last film of him to be very disappointing. The movie starts with a brief prologue during the Spanish civil war, but then moves on to 1973: it's basically about a newcomer clown to a pathetic circus who arouses the jealousy of the dangerously crazy head clown who thinks he might be after his not too bright woman. The fights between them will increasingly become more violent and grotesque. Since I don't recall their names right now, I call the three main characters in the movie, Sad Clown, Psycho Clown and Dumb Girl. Psycho Clown constantly beats Dumb Girl, but this is played for laughs in the movie which makes me wonder why the director thinks that domestic violence is funny. All three protagonists are extremely unlikable, almost repulsive, so we could not care less of what happens to them. Several aspects of Spanish 20th century history serve as backdrop to the action here but they don't add anything to the film, they seem gratuitous additions. (As an aside, chronologically, the movie doesn't add up: Sad Clown was a child around of around 10 in the 1930s, so he must be in his late forties in the second part of the movie, yet he looks like he is still in his twenties). Worst, Alex is copying himself: The idea of two rival comedians fighting each other like mad against a backdrop of recent Spanish history was already in Muertos de Miedo, which was not his best film but is much better than this (and with better actors, another problem of this movie is the poor acting, with the exception of the guy playing Psycho Clown). As in that movie, there are references to Spanish customs and popular culture of the 1970s (movies, TV shows, etc) that are probably moving to the director (who was a child during that time) but that left me and I suppose many other viewers cold. And as in Ferpect Crime, the movie ends in a homage to Hitchcock (which by now is a cliché among cinephile directors). So, in summary, I can't really recommend this, despite the expectations I had seeing this.

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