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The Invisible Circus (2001)

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A teenage girl travels to Paris in the 1970s trying to find out about her sister's suicide, and falls in love with her dead sister's boyfriend.


Adam Brooks


Jennifer Egan (novel), Adam Brooks (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Cameron Diaz ... Faith
Jordana Brewster ... Phoebe
Christopher Eccleston ... Wolf
Blythe Danner ... Gail
Camilla Belle ... Phoebe, Age 10-12
Patrick Bergin ... Gene
Isabelle Pasco ... Claire
Moritz Bleibtreu ... Eric
Philipp Weissert Philipp Weissert ... Safehouse Leader
Nikola Obermann Nikola Obermann ... Hannah
Robert Getter ... American Statesman
Ricky Koole ... Nikki


In 1975, at age 18, Phoebe is unhappy. When she was about 10, her father died of leukemia; her older sister Faith became a political radical, left for Europe with her boyfriend Wolf, and commits suicide in Portugal a year later. Phoebe, who has romantic ideas about both her father and Faith, decides to trace Faith's steps, find Wolf, and learn what really happened. She finds Wolf in Paris, and he tells her stories of Faith's radical activities, including joining the Red Army in Berlin. Phoebe has visions of her sister, seems close to madness, and may be headed for suicide herself. It's the trip to the cliffs of Portugal that will make the difference: breakthrough or breakdown? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of friendship, freedom and fate that could only happen in the Sixties See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, language and drug content | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 February 2001 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Le cirque invisible See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$55,388, 4 February 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$55,388, 4 February 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Christopher Eccleston would later go on to star as Maleketh in Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Jordana Brewster's The Fast and the Furious (2001) co-star Vin Diesel would also join the cinematic Marvel comic book universe as the voice of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). See more »


In the beginning of the movie, Phoebe and her mother, Gail, are watching TV which is showing the opening credits to the show "The Rockford Files." The sound coming out of the TV is not the opening theme for "The Rockford Files." See more »


Featured in Return to Edge City (2005) See more »


What About Africa
Written by Glen Adams (as G. Adams) & H. Swaby
Performed by The Upsetters
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User Reviews

A quest for getting answers about a sister's mysterious death
27 November 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

Jennifer Egan's novel was brought to the screen by Canadian director Adam Brooks in a film that, based on some comments from contributors to this forum, sounds a bad proposition, but in fact, it's much better than one is led to believe.

This is a story about two sisters who loved one another dearly. Faith, the fair headed and happy-go-lucky hippie girl, takes her younger sibling, Phoebe, under her wing. Phoebe plainly loves Faith; when the older one decides to follow her boyfriend Wolf to Europe on a summer vacation from Berkley, she promises she will send Phoebe a post card every day. Faith does that, until the cards stop coming in and one night, some time later, the family receives a phone call to inform them Faith has died under tragic circumstances.

Phoebe can't forget Faith. That is why after some years pass by, she decides to take the same route the older sister took. She takes the cards from Faith and visits each place, starting in Amsterdam, then moving on to Paris and she wants to end up the trip in Portugal, where Faith encountered her untimely death.

In Paris, Phoebe hooks up with Wolf, who by now, is not a hippie anymore and is living with his girlfriend. Wolf, tries to persuade Phoebe into abandoning her trip and to go back home; she suspects that Wolf holds the key into solving the mystery, and as she is going to depart for Portugal she makes a discovery when she finds a picture that clearly contradicts Wolf's version he has told Phoebe. He feels guilty and, against his girlfriend's wishes, decides to accompany Phoebe to the town where Faith died. The story changes at this point and we go back in flashbacks to what Faith experienced in Europe and what happened in her final days.

The best thing in "The Invisible Circus" are the performances of the principals, something that Mr. Brooks has to take the credit for. The big surprise is the range of Cameron Diaz, who, as Faith, seems to select light comedy parts, when she is quite able to do good dramatic work under the right director. Jordana Brewster is seen as the older Phoebe and makes a wonderful contribution to the film. She is a stunning beauty with what seems to be a naturalness for acting. Christopher Eccleston is Wolf and shows he also is capable of doing more serious drama. The sweet Camilla Belle plays the younger Phoebe quite convincingly. Blythe Danner appears as the mother of the girls.

The European locations are gloriously photographed by Henry Braham. The film is also enhanced by the musical score of Nick Laird-Clowes and Petra Haden's original song. Elizabeth Kling edited with great elegance. Ultimately, this film shows Adam Brooks in great form as he gives the right tone to the adaptation of the novel and gets rewarded by having the right cast doing wonders for him.

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