A carnival comes to a small town. Eighteen year old Donna meets Frankie and Patch, two carnival hustlers. They earn their living by mercilessly taunting spectators to try to dump one of them into the water by throwing balls. Donna is tired of her work as a waitress and follows them through the South.Written by
This is one of the only films in existence that truly depicts the Carny as he/she was during the 50's and 60's. Why it has not made it to DVD is a real mystery.
Gary Busey and a young Jodie Foster are the mainstays of this film. Foster is beginning to show the talent that will shine in later films.
Part coming-of-age chronicle, part road movie, Carny is memorable for Jodie Foster's sexy, intelligent heroine and the pivotal influence of costar, co writer, and producer Robbie Robertson. Robertson is Patch, a carny veteran whose de facto partner is the leering, cruel Frankie (Gary Busey), an abusive clown, and the film lingers on the tawdry and menacing world behind the carny's garish public spaces. When the young, self-confident Donna (Foster) shows up and joins the troupe, the bonds between Patch and Frankie are strained. Donna's walk on the wild side brings her in intimate, sometimes dangerous proximity to the freaks and lowlifes that populate this world, which the writers and director Robert Kaylor savor for its atmosphere of outsider surrealism.
Foster acquits herself wonderfully, making this a revealing step between the prematurely hardened nymphet of Taxi Driver and the actress's first truly adult roles, soon to follow. Busey and Robertson fare less well, their work long on mannerism but ultimately cryptic to a fault. Like the movie itself, they transmit a cynicism that seems hollow without more real insight into how they came to inhabit this netherworld, and why they can't escape it. B-Sutton
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