Kimyô na sâkasu (Strange Circus) (2005)

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From the director of the cult hit Suicide Club comes an unsettling look at the life of a sexually-abused adolescent whose inability to distinguish her mother's pleasure from her own pain sends her down a dark and surreal path. Sexually molested by her father Gozu (Hiroshi Oguchi) and mentally tormented by her jealous mother Sayuri (Masumi Miyazaki), twelve-year old Mitsuko (Rie Kuwana) is locked in a cello case and forced to watch her parents perform a series of intimate acts. When Mitsuko's mother dies as the result of a fatal fall, the deeply disturbed young girl begins to believe that she has, in fact, been transformed into her own mother. Her father viewing the death of his wife and mental malaise of his daughter as a motivator to ramp up the incestuous relations with his increasingly unhinged offspring, Mitsuko eventually ends up restricted to a wheelchair following a failed suicide attempt. Later, it begins to appear that the preceding events were nothing more than the details of a new novel by reclusive, wheelchair-bound author Taeko (also Miyazaki). When Taeko's trusted editor places his fey personal assistant Yuji (Issei Ishida) in charge of the successful writer, the probing Yuji launches a clandestine investigation into Taeko's background while simultaneously being forced to satisfy her deepest and darkest fantasies. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Kimyô na sâkasu (Strange Circus)

All Critics (2)

This unforgettable Grand Guignol of an entertainment, chronicles a school principal's incestuous relationship with his twelve-year-old daughter, whom he sometimes encases in a cello case with peepholes, so she can watch him making love to her mother.

Dec 4, 2014 | Full Review…

How often can you say that a psychological thriller is as intriguing as it is titillating?

May 3, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kimyô na sâkasu (Strange Circus)

½

To say this film is strange is a severe understatement. I suppose that calling the film Mindfuck City wasn't really friendly, as far as marketing goes. You know, I don't even know how to begin to describe this film. It's just something that you'll have to see for yourself to figure it out on your own. The film deals with a 12-year old girl who has been sexually abused by her father, and also been forced to watch her parents having sex while locked inside a cello case. The girl's mind becomes increasingly more unhinged after her mother dies after a fall, and she believes she has become her mother. Of course, since the movie is as surreal as it is, it's clear that nothing is the way it seems and it leads to a twist that, in any other film, would've been absurd and ridiculous. In this film, since everything is so surreal, the twist is actually quite good and it makes the film even more surreal. The film is ripe with symbolism as well, and I think Sion Sono does a great job at making this film interesting to watch even if you're not sure what the hell is going on most of the time. This is the type of film that I think I could very easily have hated but, for some reason, I didn't. I can only imagine if this film had been an hour longer, like Noriko's Dinner Table, and how that would've been unbearable, again, like Noriko's. Thankfully the film shows, as far as length goes, a more restrained Sion Sono, since the content of the film isn't restrained at all. I realize this is a shitty review, but I don't have the "skills" to write a decent review of such a mindfuck of a film. I just know that I liked it but I would probably never watch it again, as I just think it's the kind of film that works, at getting a reaction out of people, the first time you see it when the experience is, to use a lame term, "pure". Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this to just anybody but I did like it.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

½

Another amazing film from Sion Sono.  I still need to see Hazard and Noriko?s Dinner Table, but from what I?ve seen, Sono has recently shot up my list of favourite working directors.

Christopher  Brown
Christopher Brown

Super Reviewer

½

In the style of his previous effort, Suicide Circle, Sion Sono deals with a difficult and dark subject in a horrific and slightly perverse way. He handles the scenes of child abuse with a twisted sense of genius. Our protagonist says how when she is abused she "becomes" her mother. In the visual medium of film, this literally happens. Although this makes it possible for us to endure, the performances never allow us to forget who the character is meant to be. The plot soon starts to become even more twisted as it is not clear what is real, what is part of a novel and so on. There are dream sequences, memories and prose all tangling together to make a very unique narrative. At the end it all goes a bit too far and is bogged down by excessive exposition (I didn't need the dialogue, the unbuttoning of the shirt was enough to put the pieces together). The music is also fantastic, bridging the gap between Fargo's magnificent theme and the music of Amelie. It's certainly a difficult watch, but a rewarding one.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Many call Suicide Club Sion Sono's finest film, and you'd be hard-pressed to argue that it had a lot of great qualities. But for all its imagination, it was incoherent and the only thing that really left any impact was the filming. Strange Circus, on the other hand, is the product of a filmmaker who has matured and found focus, a wonderfully honed work that manages to be complex without purposeful obfuscation. It treads an interesting line between bizarre exploitation flick and schizophrenic, tormented narrative, and is one of the more unique films I've seen recently. The first half hour of the film really gets you in the gut. Basically, it's about a young girl named Mitsuko who is forced to watch her parents have sex, raped repeatedly by her father who is ALSO the principal of her school, then chased and beaten by her gradually maddening mother every day to the point where Mitsuko tries to attempt suicide. And most of you have probably stopped reading by now. This all is horrifically lurid, but it turns out to be the creation of a writer named Taeko, a paraplegic nymphomaniac who refuses to appear in public. It's through this that Sion Sono finds his justification for doing all these horrible things to a young girl - the implication is that, despite being a work of fiction, this all happened to Taeko - but it's still uncomfortable to sit through and that's one of my problems with the film. Kudos to the young actress, who can't have had much fun on this shoot. Anyway, the fact that Taeko is writing this way over-the-top depiction of household abuse lets Sono get away with all sorts of fun stuff. There's this ridiculously bad circus metaphor running through the whole movie, and we get to see a variety of fun-house freaks parading around in Mitsuko's psyche. There are really ribald, decidedly unsexy depictions of sex, all sorts of self-mutilation hijinks, and even chainsaw dismemberments. It's basically Suicide Club firing on all cylinders, four parts art and two parts badness. This all is amplified by Masumi Miyazaki, who plays both Mitsuko's mother Sayuri and Taeko. It is an absolutely beyond-the-call performance. There are so many emotions she has to express, so much to keep her head above, and she does it all perfectly. She knows when to play it straight and when to take it into Camp Land, but most effectively, she knows how to blur the line between the two, which allows for all sorts of reinterpretation and theorizing. She simply makes the movie. I was a little skeptical of her performance at first because it's in a different language, but next to Issei Ishida, who plays the assistant editor and body artist assigned to find the truth about Taeko, she's still fantastic. On the other hand, his acclimation to the insane final act is a lot less difficult to believe. The ending, on that note, is a little long-winded, but there's so much room for richness and speculation. Unlike Suicide Club, this movie actually lends itself to rational thought, instead of throwing things that seem artistic and meaningful at the viewer and letting them cobble something stupid together. Or maybe I'm just reading into this much more than I did Suicide Club. Goddamn it, Sono, the things you're doing to me.

Drew Smith
Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

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