Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu) Review

Movie: Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu)
By: Maniac E
Date: October 19, 2011

I've been surrounded by guillotines. One wrong move, and I'm gone

Strange Circus is one of those movies you need to see to believe. Believe in that what you don’t understand or in that what your mind can’t recreate. This branch of movie-making(what they refer to as ero-guro) has grown on me more and more over the years. Perfected by a montage of scenes and a puzzle of events integrated for a quest to bind the movie to a whole, make sure you don't miss a scene. The movie features a play of scene-shifting,luring and confusing the viewers which is a plus for those who have short attention span. From a sex scene you are then transported to a circus ride, cut to a girl who becomes her mother, to a picture of a lifeless naked woman, to a bunch of circus performers, and I could go on and on.

The story:

As a young girl, Mitsuko is thrust into a depraved world of voyeurism and sex by her father, her school principle. At first, the girl is forced to watch her parents have sex from the relative safety of a cello case. But, as time passes, Mitsuko and her mother Sayuri switch places. In a fight of jealousy and rage, it appears as though Mitsuko pushes her mother down the stairs, leaving her alone with Gozo. Later in life, everything is thrown into question when a man enters Mitsuko's life, forcing her to confront what really happened in her youth. I could go on with the story but this is something you as viewer need to experience yourself.


The premise of the film as a psycho-thriller is to bring out the inquisitive, theoretical selves of the watchers. You start questioning why did such scene happen? Why did such character say those lines? Which one was the dream? Which one was reality? What's the bigger picture? Who's who? Who's The ultimate character? This movie is a challenge. And the ending steeled it. The movie possesses the basic protocols of good movie-making; that is, a good beginning to introduce the conflict and hold the viewers' attention, a climax which highlights the main conflict/s and leaving a handful of questions to our minds, and a surreal ending that will answer these questions(not to mention leave us dumbfounded). I can't even write a synopsis of the movie. Just thinking of writing it seems very exhaustive. I can't put into words the details of the movie. That's how complicated and well-developed the story is. Story-telling won't do.


The themes of the movie are also as disturbing as the scenes itself. Incest is the most noticeable theme of the movie. But the inclusion of other minimal themes (but still disturbing as they are) such as dismemberment, revenge, self-denial and what appears to be schizophrenic characters all add to the complexity of the movie. Hell even the soundtrack was creepily weird. What brought this movie to its high level though was the acting. Its like everything just fell into place. A deep story and stellar acting from the cast(especially Masumi Miyazaki who perfectly played 3 personas), this movie is undeniably an accomplishment.


While obviously not all Japanese movies are masterpieces but it seems more and more that they strive to create what most (not all) horror should be: intelligent, thoughtful, and horrific. Strange Circus accomplishes this feat; it’s beautiful, brutal, and surreal as it involves a laundry list of topics with mental torture, sexual abuse, escapism, identity questions, hallucinations, mutilations, transsexuals, and amputees. Packed with emotion and an ever-evolving storyline, director/writer Sion Sono (Suicide Club)seemingly is David Lynch junior with the shear amount of bizarre and fusion of sex and violence. Like Lynch, he drapes fantasy elements in red, even using curtains, and throws in an omnipresent circus theme to underline the odd. Although Sono isn’t near Lynch’s ability to dive completely outside the box, he effectively fluctuates between reality and fantasy and swaps identities to the point one doesn’t know what the hell is happening. Comparisons of Phillip K. Dick jump out, but Sono keeps things in the family as the story revolves around a seriously fucked up mother, father, and daughter. Regardless if the film makes perfect sense, its power becomes impossible to deny.



Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu)


Strange Circus (Kimyô na sâkasu)


Shion Sono






Masumi Miyazaki, Issei Ishida, Rie Kuwana