The Canal if you are interested in hearing my thoughts on that film. I went to bed super early Sunday night, but that isn't the reason I didn't get a movie in. The movie Strange Circus (2005) is about to be taken out of instant watch from Netflix, but I bulked at watching it because of what the movie is about. I was going to add it to my DVD queue, which I thought I had done but didn't apparently, and then changed my mind yesterday and decided to watch it after all.
Mitsuko (Rie Kuwana) has a story to tell us. At 12 years old she gets caught peeking at her parents as they have sex. This apparently gets her father's imagination going since he soon talks Mitsuko to hide is a cello case with a peep hole in it so she can watch. After a few times of this, he shows his wife (Masumi Miyazaki) what he has been doing. He then tells her to get into the cello case so she can watch him rape Mitsuko. Life gets stranger for Mitsuko as her mother turns against her. We learn through Mitsuko that this life eventually becomes somewhat normal as she feels she has become her mother, especially after her death. But then we learn that Taeko (also played by Miyazaki) is writing a book about all this. Yuji (Issei Ishida) works for the publishing company and has always wanted to work with Taeko. After talking to his boss, he decides to try to find out the truth about Taeko. Is it all a work of fiction or is Taeko really Mitsuko or maybe even Mitsuko's mother?
Strange Circus is a film from Japan that was directed and written by Shion Sono. I have watched a couple of his films before, Suicide Club and Noriko's Dinner Table. Strange Circus has been my favorite of the three films I have watched now. It was also the hardest to watch. I kept having to pause it and step away for a couple of minutes before returning. It was just hitting a bit close to home at times. I'm assuming that Sono has been through abuse, or at least studied up on it before making this film. The way things are described by Mitsuko are pretty accurate with how the abuse was dealt with. While Sono does show the sex between father and daughter, which isn't graphic at all, it isn't Rie that we see in these scenes but Masumi instead as Mitsuko feels she is becoming her mother. The quick turn out of this story, and into the real story taking place years later, was a surprise. I was wondering how the story would manage to last the whole running time, so was glad for the redirection. Not to say that things don't stay weird through the rest of the story though. It is never clear who Taeko really is. Sono doesn't appear too interested in solving this for us, but the film does seem to be about losing an identity. The story has a slow pace to it most of the time, and manages to get even slower in places, but the strangeness of it all keeps the movie interesting. The only thing I can really complain about is that it perhaps gets a bit too weird towards the end.
I was a bit surprised at how gory Strange Circus got in places. From a surgery to a limbless body, things do get a bit gory. I guess I was surprised by this because, up until the surgery scene, effects weren't being used at all. The effects used are pretty gory, but they are spaced out enough so that they are more of a surprise instead of the norm. The effects are well done as is the acting. While I didn't really care for Miyazaki filling in for Kuwana as much as she did, I understood why she did in some of the scenes at least. Miyazaki actually covers a lot ground with her acting in this movie. She does a really good job with it all. Also liked Ishida in his role, but liked him a lot better when he was being all crazy.
Another thing that really impressed me about Strange Circus was some of the set designs. I didn't always get why some of the sets looked the way they did, like the school's walls are often blood soaked, but they still seemed to fit in with the rest of this weird movie. Even though I really enjoyed Strange Circus for being so different, it is a tough call to suggest it to others. It won't be for everyone due to the things that happen in the film, but it is still a very interesting film. I can't see a movie like Strange Circus being made here in the States, as I'm sure people would protest it way too much. If you are looking for a really out there film in an odd ball way, Strange Circus should fit that bill just right.
4 out of 5 Surprised there wasn't a ghost in there somewhere
2 months ago