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"THE INVISIBLE CIRCUS"
(2001) (Jordana Brewster, Christopher Eccleston) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Extreme Mild Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Mild None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Heavy Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young woman sets out to retrace her older sister's trip several years earlier through Europe, hoping to discover why she committed suicide while there.
PLOT:
It's 1977 and Phoebe O'Connor (JORDANA BREWSTER), a recent high school graduate, lives in San Francisco with her mother, Gail (BLYTHE DANNER). Things are quieter in their home than in the past when Phoebe's father, Gene (PATRICK BERGIN), and older sister, Faith (CAMERON DIAZ), were still alive. It's been nine years since Gene died of leukemia, and six since Faith killed herself while in Portugal.

Feeling disconnected with the rest of the world and still obsessed with her sister and her death, Phoebe decides to follow Faith's path through Europe. Using her many old postcards as guides about her various thoughts and locations, Phoebe travels from Amsterdam to France where she runs into her sister's old boyfriend, Wolf (CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON). No longer a hippie radical, Wolf is now engaged to a Frenchwoman, Claire (ISABELLE PASCO), and has tried to put his relationship with Faith behind him.

Nevertheless, Phoebe's presence and questions dredge up old memories and feelings. As Wolf eventually joins Phoebe as she continues on her quest, the young woman eventually pieces together the events that led to her sister's suicide and learns a thing or two about herself and life.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sexuality, language and drug content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JORDANA BREWSTER plays a recent high school graduate who's still so obsessed with her sister's suicide six years earlier that she's decided to retrace her steps through Europe, hoping to find an answer about why she killed herself. Along the way, she tries some LSD and has a passionate affair with Wolf.
  • CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON plays that man who sleeps/slept individually with the two sisters (thus cheating on his current fiancée) and is haunted by the one's suicide. He also uses strong profanity, and smokes both pot and regular cigarettes.
  • CAMERON DIAZ plays Phoebe's wild sister who committed suicide after her involvement in radical activities eventually resulted in disaster. She sleeps with Wolf, uses strong profanity and smokes some pot.
  • BLYTHE DANNER plays Phoebe's concerned mother who doesn't want to lose another daughter on the same sort of trip that took the life of her other one.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is listed as extreme due to the use of at least 15 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Various sexual encounters are seen in different stages of progress (while others are suggested/implied), and include nudity, some movement and sounds. One participant cheats on his fiancée while involved with the younger sister of a woman he once dated. Other nonsexual nudity occurs, as does the sight of some women in sheer/partially see-through dresses.

    Violence consists of a partially seen suicide (we see the beginning of the jump), a purposefully set explosion that accidentally kills one man (we don't see the death), and other non-lethal behavior and activity. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while several characters do various forms of drugs, including pot and LSD (the latter of which results in an extended hallucinatory scene). Some drinking and regular smoking also occurs.

    A few moments may be tense or unsettling for some viewers, while various tense family scenes stem from the previous deaths of a father and sister (the latter via suicide) that still haunt the survivors. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may wish to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In some archival footage, it looks like a person has a marijuana joint.
  • Some miscellaneous people drink beer.
  • A stranger gives Phoebe a stamp wrapped in some foil. Phoebe keeps it for a while, but eventually unwraps it, and then licks the stamp (that's apparently laced with LSD or something similar). Phoebe then goes through a prolonged hallucination-filled trip.
  • Wolf and Phoebe have beer, while various miscellaneous people also drink.
  • People have drinks at a reception.
  • Phoebe asks Wolf whether it was drugs that led to Faith's suicide, and he replies that it was, among anything else that came along.
  • We see that Phoebe, Wolf and his fiancée had wine with dinner.
  • In a flashback, Faith smokes a joint and then hands it to Wolf who does the same. She complains that they're not really anarchists and that all they do is get stoned all day and party.
  • People drink at a party.
  • Some of Faith's radical partners have beer in a flashback.
  • Phoebe and Wolf have wine or some form of liquor with dinner.
  • After Phoebe and Wolf kiss, he explains that they're human beings and that they drank too much.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Phoebe has some blood on the side of her face and from her lip after banging into a locked, glass door.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Wolf lies to Phoebe about his knowledge/involvement leading up to Faith's suicide (but mainly because it's still painful for him).
  • We learn/see that Faith joined various radical/revolutionary groups that rob banks and set bombs in buildings, etc. (but we hear about this rather than see the actual acts, although we do see some of the aftermath). We also see a scene where Wolf, Faith and others disrupt a reception by dumping feathers onto those attending it, and Faith playfully eludes the police who are trying to arrest her.
  • Phoebe snoops around through Wolf's belongings when he's not home, hoping to find some info about her sister.
  • Wolf cheats on his fiancée by having a fling with Phoebe.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Trying to see how far Faith will go with her newfound radicalism, Wolf won't let her leave and urges her to use her gun on him. She eventually gets mad and aims her gun at him, going so far as to taking the safety off.
  • Faith is given the job to be the fence cutter so that her radical partners can escape their latest heist. She's too slow, however, and tries to hurry as they come running toward her, needing a way to escape.
  • In a flashback, we see Faith standing atop a wall overlooking a steep precipice (and knowing she committed suicide, we have an inkling of what might happen next).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifles: Seen in archival footage being carried by the militia.
  • Handgun: Carried by Faith in her pants and briefly used to threaten Wolf.
  • Various guns: Carried by Faith's radical partners.
  • Unseen explosives: Used to blow up some offices and unintentionally kill a man.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "I f*cking hate this," "F*cked up," "F*ck all of that," "Get the f*ck off there," "What the f*ck am I doing?" "You can't sing for sh*t" and "Damn her."
  • We see a flashback to a moment where Wolf, Faith and others drop feathers onto a reception as a means of protest.
  • Faith and others take radical measures to express their sociopolitical/personal beliefs.
  • Faith commits suicide by jumping off a cliff.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in several scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 15 "f" words, 3 "s" words, 3 asses (all used with "hole"), 1 damn, 2 uses of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see a photograph or picture on a wall that shows a large group of what looks like closely huddled nude people (all very tiny in the shot), but we can't see enough detail and don't see it long enough to ascertain what it really shows.
  • In a drug-induced hallucination that Phoebe has, we see Faith in a very sheer dress that partially shows her bare breasts beneath it. Later, we hear some comments about sex and Phoebe then sees a couple duck into an alley where she then sees them having sex up against a wall (with the woman's bare leg raised up alongside the man who nuzzles the woman's neck and causes her to moan). Phoebe then sees a car drive by with a topless woman in it.
  • A classic outdoor statue/mural shows female nudity.
  • Faith straddles Wolf on a mattress on the floor and they passionately kiss (with it being suggested that they then had sex as we see the two of them under the sheets afterwards).
  • Faith wears a sheer shirt that partially shows her bare nipples beneath it.
  • Phoebe wears a low-cut, sheer dress and obviously isn't wearing a bra beneath it.
  • Phoebe kisses Wolf, who returns the kiss, but then stops, saying that they can't do that. Later, however, Wolf stops Phoebe and they passionately make out in a stairwell before heading up to their room. There, we see her lower the top of her dress (we see her bare breasts) and he then sits on the bed next to her and they kiss. We then see a head and shoulders shot of them having sex with him on top of her (and we see/hear her pleasured reactions). We then see the two of them under the sheets after they're done (where we see part of the side of her bare breast and then the full thing as she climbs back on top of him). Moments later, we see Wolf's bare butt as he stands with his back to the camera. We then see them sitting up in bed kissing and again see her bare breasts.
  • Phoebe comments in voice over that after that, the two of them had to make sure they didn't touch when they were out in public, as the smallest thing would send them back to their room. We then see them passionately making out -- from a distance -- while standing up against a wall outside at night. She appears to be undoing his pants, but the scene ends there (we next see them in bed again under the covers).
  • SMOKING
  • Wolf smokes more than 5 times, while Faith smokes once and various miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Not only do we learn that Faith committed suicide while in Europe, but then that Phoebe's father died of leukemia before that (9 years before the main story begins). As such, we see some flashback footage of Phoebe and Gail spreading Faith's ashes, and much of the film deals with Phoebe's inability to accept and/or get over her sister's suicide. We also see flashbacks to after their father died (before Faith's suicide) where we learn that Faith was completely lost after his death.
  • Phoebe and her mother get into a verbal fight over Faith and her father, eventually causing Phoebe to leave home (although she was hoping to travel to Europe anyway).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Suicide.
  • Phoebe's need to trace Faith's footsteps while searching for answers about why she killed herself.
  • Disillusioned young people and why they often join radical groups looking for acceptance.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see some quickly cut archival footage of protestors overturning something and a cop beating a protestor with his nightstick.
  • While high on LSD (or something similar) and imagining seeing Faith on the other side of a locked glass door, Phoebe repeatedly lunges into that door, eventually doing so hard enough that she falls to the street and has some blood on her face and from her lip.
  • Trying to see how far Faith will go with her newfound radicalism, Wolf won't let her leave and pushes her backwards several times. He then urges her to use her gun on him. She eventually gets mad and aims her gun at him, going so far as to taking the safety off.
  • We see several explosions that blow apart several offices in a building (seen from the outside) and learn that an innocent man was killed by that (but don't see his death or body, etc.).
  • Faith briefly struggles with another radical after the above.
  • We see a flashback to Faith jumping to her death (we only see the beginning of the jump and not the impact).



  • Reviewed January 22, 2001 / Posted February 9, 2001

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