Cirkus Maximum (2022)

Cirkus Maximum (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Cirkus Maximum (2022)
Director: Artur Kaiser
Cast: Jan Preucil,Petr Batek, and Radim Fiala
Genres: Comedy
Release date: October 13, 2022
IMDB Rating: 2.6/10
Language: Czech
Duration: 1h 37m


Cirkus Maximum (2022)


An old Czech proverb advises the devil to stick to his hoof. If you can’t do something, just don’t do it and that’s it. This will save you a lot of trouble. Like this review. But in this case, the devil did not stick to his hoof, and it turned out so horribly that I would have been reluctant to believe it unless I had seen it with my own eyes. The trailers already announced the warning that the biggest Czech film disaster of all time was coming. Desperately sterile attempts at a joke, cheap production at the level of amateur performances, and convulsively spoken sentences made it clear, despite the multitude of Czech actors and actresses, that history would be rewritten here. And it turned out that way. The result, which the producers sent to the cinemas to cheer up lovers of circus tents and Czech film jokes, has the potential to discourage you from watching Czech films forever.

I understand that if you have been involved in the circus more or less all your life and come from an old circus family yourself, you will grow fond of this environment. But that doesn’t mean that your love of the arena will make you a good director. Or a screenwriter. It simply won’t do, even if you persuade Jan Přeučil, Tomáš Matonoh, Radim Fiala, and a whole host of other people from Foch to act in the “film”, including the certainly talented members. It is one thing to organize circus performances and another to make a film.

For both, you need people who know what they are doing. In the case of a film, the director directs, the screenwriter writes (or rather forever rewrites) the story, the editor cuts, the dramaturg brazenly pokes his fingers into it all, etc. However, none of this works in Cirkus Maximum. If the film is truly unique in anything, it’s the fact that it was created without the professionals involved knowing what they were doing. If someone had told me that this was an amateur film by circus enthusiasts, I would have congratulated them for casting so many famous faces in something like this, including Marie Tomsová! How Artur Kaiser, who is behind the whole project, did it, I have no idea.

Artur Kaiser has so far become most famous in the media as the father of the Votvírák festival. And also organized a huge circus mega show with dolphins in 2013 that never happened. It was part of his “never-ending circus performance in Prague” project, which, however, ended over time. Perhaps the ambition to make a feature film as a tribute to the hard and thankless life of circus performers, for whom the nomadic way of life is everything, has its roots here. The story about the last big show of an ancient circus on the verge of collapse, where after the death of the principal (Jan Přeučil) long-forgotten grievances surface and pit two brothers (Petr Batěk and Radim Fiala) against each other, it could have looked great on paper. In reality, however, he turned into a nightmare for all viewers. Namely, in a terrible parade of boredom, awkwardness, and craft failure on all fronts.

If Artur Kaiser entrusted his certainly god-like idea to a director, had the script written by an experienced author, and had the whole thing edited by a better editor, the serial Circus Humberto could have, if not a full-length competitor, at least a follower. But he doesn’t. Thanks to its authors, Cirkus Maximum fails completely and in all respects. The problems start with the overall concept of the story, as the film is simply about nothing. It has no plot arc, no progression or gradation. It is a sequence of individual scenes that function as a kind of micro-stories but without the necessary point. Some scenes may have a foreshadowing in the real life of circus performers (the fight with the authorities for permission to take over a public space), but even these are presented rather without content and immediately sound as lost as the others.

Humor could have been a safety brake, but the brake failed because the individual gags miss the essence of understanding humor as such. Another slap in the face of the viewer is the directorial guidance of the actors, which does not exist and leaves the poor actors to deliver convulsive monologues or dialogues without any acting experience. With the non-actors, of whom there are countless in the film, you will understand it. But drowning the potential of actors like Přeučil, Matonoha, Fiala or Oldřich Kaiser is a huge shame. Most of them deliver their lines so flatly as if it were the product of immediate improvisation. The exception is Přeučil and Kaiser, who, of course, bring a theatrical form of speech and act as if they got on set by mistake.

Of course, it’s not an Oscar-winning drama, but unfortunately, it’s not a classic Czech relaxing romp either, because even that has to meet at least the genre criteria to be called a film. “It will catch on,” says one of the characters in the film. No, it won’t catch. Not even in Poděbrady (which is probably the most annoying running joke of all time). Something like this cannot catch on with the audience, because it has nothing to do with it. Circus Maximum is not a film in the true sense of the word, just a sequence of random scenes without internal consistency and corresponding technical form. And not even in the “so bad it’s funny” category. Although Aldrich Kaiser will try to convince you in the role of Pennywise the Clown that “people are stupid, they laugh at everything”, but unfortunately he has no idea how far it is from the truth.

There’s nothing to laugh about here because the humor doesn’t work at all. At the same time, it is not even a full-length advertisement for the circus, because we will see the real numbers only at the very end when most of the audience has already died of boredom and despair. In addition, it is a random sequence of circus attractions without any point interesting shots to end it all and you can go home.

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