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MOVIE REVIEW: Circo

A documentary about life in a Mexican circus

  • A scene from "Circo."
  • (L-R) Alexia Ponce and Reyna Ponce in "Circo."
  • The Ponce family in "Circo."
  • Reyna Ponce in "Circo."
  • Moiss Galindo in "Circo."
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In Water for Elephants, we saw a 3-ring circus that was just barely surviving the Great Depression. In this interesting documentary, we’re seeing a one-ring circus that’s barely surviving from town to town in Mexico. It’s the first feature film by Aaron Schock, who served as the producer, director, cameraman, and sound engineer.

It’s amazing to see all the hard work that goes into this vagabond life the Ponce family leads. It’s painful to see the four Ponce children working hard, and that brings some tension with their mom – who keeps telling husband Tino that his parents are just using him while they collect all the money.

The four children seem to enjoy their life of no school, and practicing various contortions and other tricks they’ll be doing under the big top. And since the wife ran away to be with Tino and join the circus, you’re sometimes conflicted on how you feel (although she was 15 at the time).

Tino’s brother and niece also working with him, and as we see from one family reunion, there are others with circuses that we don’t see. Tino has a heart of gold, but he’s not the smartest guy around. It breaks your heart to realize he doesn’t see the tightrope he’s walking in his marriage.

Schock gave us just the right amount of circus shots as well as behind the scenes footage. Watching Tino practice the intro to the circus, I thought of the great documentary from last month called Strongman. The main character often got mad at his girlfriend for messing up the introduction and not sounding enthusiastic enough.

Circo peters out a little at the end, but at 75 minutes it was the perfect length. I left the theatre thinking – they must not have child labor laws in Mexico. The look on my face... the sad clown.

This documentary gets a B.