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Balada triste de trompeta (The Last Circus)

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia

Spain, 2010

Cornerhouse, 16 March 2012

The Last Circus

‘That was seriously off its head.’

Not my words, rather the considered conclusion of a young woman sat not four seats away from me as the credits began to roll.

There is a happy clown and a sad clown squabbling over the same woman, an acrobat who may symbolise Spain herself and who goes overboard with the gravity-defying pirouettes at the close.  As the clowns’ rivalry intensifies they have recourse to submachine guns, machetes and the like in order to win the woman they love.  Their feud is set against the political violence of Spain’s recent past.

It’s a stylishly gross film, crudely drawn yet curiously compelling.  For those in want of a tag line, it could well be: Spain’s troubled history: if you don’t laugh, you cry.

And the aforementioned young woman’s summation was just: it is well mental and no mistake.  These clowns, oft’ feral and fearful in appearance, are a fair few custard pies short of a baker’s dozen.