The Last Circus - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Circus Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 11, 2011
Fun and grotesque in the right way, with a strong vibe of classic horror cinema. The problem is that the second half switches gears with such an agressive force that it forgets completely about the characters, and just turns them into vicious psychopats for no good reason other than having a series of over-the-top sequences. I enjoyed this, but the lack of a proper transition damages the impact of the story.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2011
This is playing US festivals under the title THE LAST CIRCUS, though I like the literal translation of the Spanish title (A SAD TRUMPET BALLAD) better. A sad clown and a happy clown fight for the love of a beautiful trapeze artist; they go insane with passion and beat the greasepaint off each other. It's an allegory for the Spanish Civil War, but mainly its a gruesome, bloody b-movie action/melodrama that provides sporadic chuckles and thrills.
Super Reviewer
½ December 12, 2012
During the Spanish Civil War, the Republican Army is so desperate for soldiers that they resort to drafting circus clowns, but not so desperate that they include bearded ladies. One such clown(Santiago Segura) so impresses the loyalists with his killing with a machete that he earns their respect and is spared from the firing squad. Sadly, he dies in a jail break engineered by his son Javier(Jorge Clemente). Decades later, Javier(Carlos Areces) gets to fulfill his father's wish when he is hired as a sad clown by a circus where he works with Sergio(Antonio de la Torre) who regularly beats his wife Natalia(Carolina Bang), a trapeze artist. And apparently Javier is the only person who notices...

"The Last Circus" is yet another movie that starts promisingly enough(even the opening credits are cool) before going completely haywire. The problem here is that the movie is content at just throwing ideas at a wall to see what sticks.(I thought the clown car analogy would have been too obvious.) The Spanish Civil War is an important event that is brought up, forgotten and then returned to in a Dickensian delusion of grandeur. A horror movie set in a circus would not have been such a bad idea but the movie lacks the courage of its convictions to fully go grand guignol, instead going for something more like an origin story or a debate as to who is really the monster.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2012
*** out of ****

"The Last Circus" left me feeling shocked, bewildered, alienated, disgusted, repulsed, humored, and perhaps even speechless. In all honesty, I don't know if a few big words can truly describe this mind-boggling hit of cinematic acid; but I'll try as hard as I can to write a sufficient review for a film that is, by all necessary means, almost too different to critique through the standards of film criticism. There's a chance that for movies like this one; new rules are in need of inventing.

But wait. Surely this isn't the first time someone's gone out of their way to make something so outrageous and strange. Indeed, it isn't. There's a special place in cinema reserved for the visionary button pushers; the pretentious filmmakers who aren't afraid to express their artistic vision and allow it to run completely wild - free of filters, censors, and among other things, the great big sponge known as Hollywood. "The Last Circus" doesn't quite earn its place among these movies - and it's director, Alex de la Iglesia, doesn't quite belong there with the other daring filmmakers of classic cinema - but it has the right to be weird, and weird it is.

The first thing that catches your eye when it comes to the film's marketing campaign is the picture of an evil-looking clown armed with what appears to be machine guns. And that's just a taste of what de la Iglesia has in store for us not too far down the road. He sets his film in 1937, when the Spanish Civil War is still taking place, and his focus is set primarily on one very big source of entertainment in those harsh times; circus performers. And in this case, clowns are most important of all.

The protagonist - if there really is one by the end of this twisty, warped story - is Javier (Carlos Areces). He was traumatized by the imprisonment of his father, a circus clown, when he was of a young age. It was then that Javier accepted the fact that his childhood had been taken away from him by the war itself; and it was time to move on. He grows up and finds a job in the family business, as a sad clown. Due to his lack of a real childhood - filled to the top with rainbows and butterflies and fatherly affection - he is deemed incapable of making children laugh. He doesn't mind his position in the circus, that is until he meets his new boss.

The antagonist is Sergio (Antonio de la Torre). As I said, he is Javier's employer. And he's also an abusive tyrant of the physical and verbal variety, a heavy drinker, and when forced into action, quite the determined sadist. Here's a boss so utterly repulsive that he might not even be permitted entry into the casting calls for "Horrible Bosses".

Sergio is married to the gorgeous Natalia (Carolina Bang); whom Javier secretly lusts after. Natalia notices this and takes a liking to the sad clown; soon, they are going places together by night, and their romantic bonds gains strength. Sergio, meanwhile, notices this and becomes increasingly pissed. He takes his anger out on Natalia most of the time; and if she isn't around, anyone else who is gets a beating. Javier can't stand his employer's misogyny and abuse; causing him to commit an irreversible act. I shall not say what that act is; although let's just say it doesn't end well, and it isn't particularly pretty either. But then again, in a movie like this, what is?

De la Iglesia has great, radiant visual style; his film is a beautiful festival of colors drenched in ugly, although sometimes discreetly funny violence. Think of the film like a bad car crash; you can't look away - oh, no. The performances, the direction, and the dark sense of humor are all far too desirable for that; and by the time we're sucked in, it's too late to turn back. While "The Last Circus" isn't what I'd call a fun film - nor is it one that falls under my definition of "entertaining" half of the time - it's got style, and it's got grace. So in the words of Tom Jones, I guess that makes it a winner.

Some will love it; some will hate it. There's no way that I would ever consider this film to be a great one; but there's an essence about it that I find oddly beautiful. I acknowledge the fact that Iglesia sees himself as a predecessor to surrealistic mastermind Alejandro Jodorowsky; and I acknowledge that as a filmmaker, he lacks the said man's empathy for his characters and passion for his philosophy. But he's got something different all-together; something that separates "The Last Circus" from every other film I saw last year. I admire when a filmmaker can treat me to something new and exciting; even if it is on an emotional scale, a mixed bag. So why shouldn't I greet "The Last Circus" with the praise that it rightfully deserves. Come my friends; join me. This is not one you're going to want to miss.
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2011
Believe me "Torture Porn with Clowns" sure sounded like an amusing genre, but having a film fire on all cylinders like this is rather off putting. The film's opening scenes promise an amusing (if disturbed) satire of the Franco regime. Unfortunately, the narrative collapses on itself rather suddenly, as if director Alex de la Iglesia decided that if he pushed the film to the most bat-shit insane limits(with some awful symbolism he rams down the audience's throats) that he wouldn't have to come up with anything resembling a coherent story. The film has gotten generally positive reviews so I'll assume people saw something stylish, with clowns and metaphors and references to Franco fascism so they just assumed it was a good film.
August Seria
Super Reviewer
August 20, 2011
Grotesque, fun, and well acted. The whole story is phenomenal because it teaches us a great lesson about love.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2012
I'm a huge fan of the Tod Browning classics 'The Unknown' and 'Freaks', so I really liked the circus themes. I didn't expect it to be so violent, original and fun. 'Last Circus' will make you laugh, cringe and cry. Highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2011
If you've seen the trailer for The Last Circus, then you'll know what type of movie to expect. This is definitely a movie that is grounded in absurdity and you should expect it to climb from there high in to the sky (literally).

The Last Circus is about two "Happy" and "Sad" clowns fighting for a sky dancer in the circus. As the movie progresses the clowns turn violent and grotesque as their inner demons begin to surface and show physically and emotionally.

Although some of the undertones might have been lost on me due to it's Spanish back story and it did wander a tad, it was still worth the watch. Really, saying anything else would be pointless, if you like over-the-top movies and dark humor, then this is something to take a try with.

8 (clown tears) / 10
November 11, 2014
A bizarre love story involving a triangle consisting of a "happy" clown (one who makes kids laugh), his aerialist girlfriend who puts up with his physical abuse, and a new "sad" clown who is the brunt of all the "happy" clown's jokes. The fighting over the girl gets vicious, with disfigurement being the outcome yet the battle continues. Not for everyone, but I found it disturbing and still enjoyable.
March 9, 2014
Fantastic Spanish thriller with darkly comedic undertones dealing with revenge, clowns, and the legacy of the Spanish Civil War. Amazing visuals and set pieces compliment the increasingly surreal (though, surprisingly grounded) storyline. Goes in directions unexpected but not illogical. Really great stuff. Another great film by Álex de la Iglesia.
August 20, 2011
Not what I was expecting. Lost my interest about half way through. Quite like the opening title sequence and music that accompanied it.
½ January 4, 2013
Parts of this were really great while a few moments weren't all that due to slight cliches. The main woman's character wasn't very refined as she was constantly switching around..I get that is her character but it made me care less about her and the outcome, even if the outcome was pretty good. The CGI was a little dodgy but you can't really fault that for a small budget. Maybe the disfigured clown could have been a little more mangled in the face. Overall I really liked the Last Circus.
October 16, 2011
I'm using the area where I would normally review a movie to instead just give a disclaimer. This is definitely in the top 5 most psychotic films I have ever seen. I don't want you to see that I gave it four stars and think that means you should watch it. It isn't like, the goriest, nor the trippiest, nor the most incoherent/confusing movie I've ever seen. It's just fucking weird and full of violent psycho killer clowns. I mean if you are okay with that and with it being in Spanish with subtitles, then by all means it's definitely worth a watch.
April 24, 2012
Crazy, twisted, love-hate circus-thriller centered around The Happy Clown, The Sad Clown, and the woman they are going to kill for.
½ December 21, 2011
One of the more intense films I've seen in a while. Carlos Areces plays the lovesick loser pushed too far expertly. Antonio de la Torre plays the contemptible scumbag expertly as well. The film is excellent, and I'd love to give it a higher score, but quite often it felt like director Alex de Iglesia wanted too much to see his girlfriend/muse Carolina Bang in edgy simulated sex scenes. It did contribute to the story. . . but c'mon dude. Anyway lovers of brutal dramas will love The Last Circus. For others it might be too much.
November 24, 2011
This starts out like it's going to be a deep and serious drama. The drama still plays through to the end so you beging to wonder if this is really supposed to be a horror movie or not. Didn't find it funny, maybe lost in translation or I just didn't get the joke. When the main character goes insane and turns the movie into a killing spree over a woman ah who the hell knows what to say about this movie. It's worth a watch.
November 23, 2011
Haunting, imaginitive, violent, and bat-shit crazy. These are all proper adjectives to describe Alex de la Iglesia's hallucinogenic drug known as THE LAST CIRCUS. While it does have a slow second act, it's the first 40 minutes and the final 20 that pack a heavy punch.
November 12, 2011
One of the most engrossing and masterful film viewing experiences I've had in 2011. 'The Last Circus' is pure concentrated cinematic insanity. This beautifully realized vision is confident and without fear of alienating its audience with stunning flourishes of unmitigated brutality and impressively shocking dark humor. Ultimately, this is a surreal portrait of a lonely clown's lifelong quest for vengeance and love and how that journey inevitably turns him into an uncontrollable machine gun wielding monster. Definitely not for every taste, but for me, this is a true MOVIE and it's a uncompromising and unpredictable ride...
½ November 17, 2011
Apparently, a movie nerd cult is forming around this director. Seen three of his movies now and I just don't get it.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2011
If waiting to see this movie were abstinence, then seeing it was like bustin' the best nut ever. Fucking amazing.
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