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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Invisible Circus (review)

This 1970’s coming-of-age tale isn’t nearly as bad as you’ve heard — in fact, it’s rather good. Hippie Faith (Cameron Diaz: Charlie’s Angels) and artist Dad (Patrick Bergin) were the free spirits of the O’Connor family, propping up each other’s dreams; little sis Phoebe (Jordana Brewster: The Faculty) and Mom (Blythe Danner: Meet the Parents) were the stolid, practical ones, clinging together outside the little circle of happiness Faith and Dad created for themselves. But then Dad died of a lingering illness, and Faith took her own life. Several years later, Phoebe — now 18, haunted by Faith’s grace and charisma, and desperate to understand what drove her to kill herself — sets off to retrace her sister’s trip through Europe, which ended in Faith’s suicide. But the traveler is the journey here — the same trip is not the same trip when different people take it, as Phoebe is disconcerted to learn. Based on Jennifer Egan’s novel and written for the screen and directed by Adam Brooks (Practical Magic), this dreamy and meditative film is less about justifying Faith’s life as a radical in the protesting 70s than it is about Phoebe’s discovery of her sister’s secrets… and by extension, the disillusioning unfolding of the real, cold, hard world as we grow up. The film detours into a romance whose purpose in the larger scheme of things is never quite clear — as Phoebe’s meeting with Faith’s old boyfriend, Wolf (Christopher Eccleston: Gone in 60 Seconds) turns into something more intimate — but the performances are, to a one, lovely and delicate. This is a film that demands patience of its audience, but give in to it and you’ll be well rewarded.

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MPAA: rated R for sexuality, language, and drug content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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