The Last Circus


The Last Circus

Critics Consensus

The Last Circus is an uneven but winningly insane blend of hard violence, sex, black humor, and social satire.



Total Count: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,806
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Movie Info

1937, Spain is in the midst of the brutal Spanish Civil War. A "Happy" circus clown is interrupted mid-performance and forcibly recruited by a militia. Still in his costume, he is handed a machete and led into battle against National soldiers, where he single handedly massacres an entire platoon. Fast forward to 1973, the tail end of the Franco regime. Javier, the son of the clown, dreams of following in his father's career footsteps, but has seen too much tragedy in his life - he's simply not funny and is only equipped to play the role of the Sad Clown. He finds work in a circus where he befriends an outlandish cast of characters, but as the Sad Clown he must take the abuse of the brutish Happy Clown Sergio, who humiliates Javier daily in the name of entertainment. -- (C) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Last Circus

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (11)

  • Basque director Álex de la Iglesia's exotic, surreal, hilarious, bloody and utterly explosive grand opus.

    Oct 1, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • From the far-too-teeming brain of Spanish writer/director Alex de la Iglesia, The Last Circus is a bizarre, surreal, grotesque, fascinating, demanding, disappointing and ultimately exhausting political allegory that plays like a waking nightmare.

    Sep 30, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • For those with a taste for the subversive and outrageous, run, don't walk.

    Sep 23, 2011 | Rating: 3/4
  • You're left with the vague recollection of an interesting movie you were watching before you got kidnapped and subjected to over an hour of torture porn starring a fat, sadistic clown.

    Aug 24, 2011 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

    Una LaMarche

    Top Critic
  • If you like your baroque sex and violence with a side dish of heavy-duty symbolism ... put "The Last Circus" on your must-see list right now.

    Aug 19, 2011
  • Take Fellini, Tarantino and "Taxi Driver," throw 'em in a cage with a lion, and you'd get this strange, wild trip.

    Aug 19, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Last Circus

  • Dec 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.
    Wu C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 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.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 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.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2011
    The word insane doesn't even begin to describe this movie. I can't really think of enough words that will do this film justice. It's a movie that has to be seen. It's probably the best dark comedy/horror/thriller/romance movie you'll ever see. However it is a very flawed movie, my god is it flawed. It overstays its welcome by about 15 minutes and when it's over you've become numb to everything. The story is really secondary in a movie like this where it's all about the craziness it offers. And the fact that it tries to be so many things at once doesn't help create a consistent feel to the movie. But goddamnit, the movie is still massively entertaining. This movie is insanity at its finest, sort of like Natural Born Killers should've been but, unfortunately, wasn't.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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