Friday, April 29, 2011


45 minutes longer than it should be (a bad thing for a movie that is only 75 minutes long), "Circo" showcases debut documentarian Aaron Schock's immense technical proficiency but also a lazy dependency on padding. Shooting against a beautiful background of sunsets and pastels, he charts a few months in the life of a family whose entire life is spent on their circus. It has glorious aspects to it, to be sure, but it also takes its tolls. The father, Tito, feels it is his calling to continue the circus in honor of his father (all of his other siblings have moved on), but his wife, Ivonne (who he ran off with at a young age), is sick and tired of the instability of the venture and worried that her kids are just as unsatisfied. They have been taught to do pretty amazing things, yet they are essentially illiterate and will have a hard time adapting to the world outside of the big top if they choose to leave.

The film drifts between unpretentious intimacy and cliched superficiality, and is much the lesser for the latter. Schock is not an intrusive filmmaker, but he still adorns the movie with trademarks of intrusive filmmakers (such as using too many captions and holding the film to a strict arc), and the film gets somewhat lost in that contradiction. Along with this misstep, Schock also doesn't keep a long enough focus on certain elements (such as the actual circus performing), and jumps around too much, showing us things not entirely related to the plot and giving us the same information again and again.

I hope that Schock gets his content flaws down before his next outing, because if he does, he may be a strong documentarian. But even though "Circo" has some good insight, it didn't grip me and as a result I was waiting impatiently for its conclusion. C+

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