Circus (2000) Poster


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Had it's moments..but not enough to keep me interested.
CharltonBoy25 April 2002
Over the last few years the British film industry has made countless films like Circus , some brilliant some not so brilliant. Circus comes under the " Not so brilliant" catagory .The problem with this movie is that it tries to be far to clever for it's own good, which leaves the viewer bemused by the plot and in the end not caring what ,or if there is a final twist. The acting is good by most of the cast.John Hannah is convincing as a con man and Eddie Izzard is fantastic as the loan shark (why couldnt we se more of him?)but Brian Conley is not so convincing as the gangland boss. Every time he grimaces and tries to look nasty he looks like he is about to start laughing. Which is what you might do when you enter the circus for an hour and a half. 5 out of 10
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Poor entrant into the British Gangster drama
mr_walsh18 September 2006
Entertaining, but not in the same satisfying way as 'Snatch', 'Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels' or '7ayer Cake'. I love twists, but I can only suspend my disbelief so far.

A hallmark of this genre (invented by Tarrantino?) is to have people with incongruous-to-gangster traits...I guess these connect the audience to otherwise abhorrent killers/thieves. In this regard they were really trying a bit too hard...the bookie Troy who expresses himself with 80s pop songs...the tender yet brutal Moose. To me it seems like these were the result of an engineered effort to create 'Pulp Fiction-' or 'LS&2SB-' like characters.

But I did like Leo's character.
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Ladies and gentlemen... we present in the centre ring... a mess.
Victor Field11 October 2002
"Circus" was barely released in cinemas even in Britain and, from what I understand, skipped US cinemas despite its Columbia backing. It's an okay watch for cable at 3 a.m. (which, interestingly enough, is when I watched it), but that's about it.

The movie's scuppered by the ludicrous casting of comedian Brian Conley as a gangster who we see taking a bite of a man's ear in the beginning; he comes off as too playground-villainous to take seriously, and the rest of the movie is just as plausible (tip: do not go and attack and/or threaten people when there are witnesses around, a piece of advice ignored TWICE in the course of the movie). David Logan's script needed some stronger direction and a bit of restraint, instead of piling double-cross upon double-cross until it's soon hard to tell just what the hell's going on, culminating in an "Oh-for-God's-sake!" ending.

"Circus" is diverting enough, but a waste of John Hannah, a bigger waste of Fred Ward, something of a waste of Amanda Donohoe, and an absolutely criminal waste of Famke Janssen (who is not only super-fit but, unlike Conley, actually CAN be convincingly tough - it's impossible to believe she appeared in both this and "X-Men" in 2000 ... then again, she did do "House on Haunted Hill"). What she was doing in this movie we can only speculate; did she fancy a trip to Brighton? Or is she a secret fan of "Rebus"? Or "The Brian Conley Show"?

And one more piece of advice - don't go mentioning "The Sweet Smell Of Success" in your movie, unless you really want to draw unfair comparisons. Mind you, it's preferable to actually going to a circus; I never liked the things.
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it's not the twists that make this film bad
fizher9 September 2001
I think that saying this film has too many is not what makes this film bad. The twists are not the problem of the film. The story is quite clever and could have been very cool if filmed right. The major problems why everyone is complaining about the twists in the film is that the film is just not fascinating enough to make people follow them. The film is badly shot (at least in comparison to its genre brother Lock, Stock). Worse: the characters are (although often well acted) just plain flat. The characters don't have enough time to be introduced well enough to let the viewer get involved with a single one of them, let alone understand them. Oh, and the locations are just terrible: locations-person (I didn't bother to watch the credits for your name) - get another job (maybe still photography or interior design)
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A pretty good caper movie
LondonOnMyMind4 March 2004
Circus is a good caper flick. It is as unpretentious as its small-time crook characters, and should be treated as such. It is good fun, with some pretty hilarious dialogue.

Janssen and Hannah make a good couple. I have read some reviews that said they were not believable; I disagree. I actually thought they were a cute couple, and that they shared a kind of playful chemistry. The supporting players were also very good, particularly Stormare and Izzard.

Many people have complained about this movie's numerous twists and turns. However, I do not think the outcome would have been the same without them. Also, personally, I like to be surprised.
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I couldn't turn it off
lynda-eagan6 September 2002
Last night I had trouble sleeping so I came down and turned on the movie channels. I had happened upon 'Circus' and although at first it had all the hallmarks of a British 'B' rate/made for TV film I soon got caught up in the story. The cast was fascinating - so many unrelated talents - how could they be stitched together? Magically, as it happened. I pride myself in seeing the twists coming but I couldn't keep up with this one. Twists like a corkscrew! I couldn't turn it off - so much for my insomnia. I can't wait to watch it again at a more civilised hour.
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sophomoric brit-crime twaddle
themansfield55 June 2004
If you've seen any other sort of halfway decent crime movie, your patience might be put to the test by "Circus". If you are more than halfway sober or awake, its little derivative winks of 'intelligence' might actually appear half-assed and grating. I'm a fan of both John Hannah and Eddie Izzard, but neither actor can rescue this made-for-TV-grade formulaic crap-pile. And the 'intelligent' bit of that formula is the one that most grates on me: when the films throws out references to Tarantino, musical theatre, The Sweet Smell of Success, etc.(naming a character Elmo Somerset? Good lord), it's insulting. And when the twists are revealed, I hardly feel that the makers of Circus are knowing masterminds. They blindly stumbled through this movie, hoping that they could pull this foolish scam of a movie off.
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nasty film
winner554 October 2007
Would somebody please explain why anybody would want to make a "British neo-noir" crime film with a cast almost entirely American? The accents spoken in this film are bloody awful! But entirely in keeping with the performances, which are so wooden, one fears to strike a match for setting the cast on fire.

Really, what kind of disgusting, moronic, cynical crud is this? Even neo-noir films have some character you either feel for or want to feel for, even if they're wretched and doomed; they at least have some decency to them, some sense that what they've done is wrong, or that a seemingly good plan has gone wrong, and that somehow they're stuck with the responsibility for it.

Not in this stanky stew. These characters are putrid, betraying each other, themselves, and the audience.

Also, note that they are low-lives - all right, nothing wrong with that - except that they seem to be living a life of luxury. For a film supposedly about desperate petty thieves, the keynote here is - ennui. It's all so terribly dull and dross, doncha know. So let's just rip some people off or maybe murder them, and go get laid in a luxury hotel. What ambition!

Gooping this whole mess to some bottom of swampy muck are: boringly uneven pacing; predictable 'action' sequences that aren't; banal and incoherent set-design; made-for-bad-TV camera-work and editing; forgettable score; and an entire lack of any imagination or innovation in production and direction.

Wholly unbelievable, unlikeable, and for less dedicated movie watchers(or masochists) like myself, utterly unwatchable.

There are other nasty things I would like to say about this nasty film, but they wouldn't print them here. Suffice it to say, you can probably find something more useful to do with your time than watch this film - just about anything, in fact.
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A Circus with no cruelty to animals
boyinflares17 June 2005
This movie isn't the sort of movie i would ordinarily watch, but with the brilliant and beautiful Famke Janssen, i had to give it a go. It was quite cool. Lots of characters, lots of sub-plots and goings-ons made it a bit hard to keep up in the first part of the film. Famke was of course excellent, the most superb performance of the cast. John Hannah, Fred Ward and Amanda Donohoe were great, Eddie Izzard was just annnoying. Coloufull settings and classy costuming was a plus, and Famke looked cool with a blonde wig. The film got good when all the double-crossing and back stabbing started coming into play, it was fun trying to work out who was really working with who, and who was against who. A good film to watch, but it requires some attention paid to it, so you would have to be in the mood.
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Well-acted, but far too confusing
sundaygirl053 November 2001
I've read with interest everyone's opinions on this movie, and am surprised at the diversity. Some reviews state it is the worst British move in ages, some compare it to the likes of Trainspotting and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. I'm somewhere in between.

'Circus' is very refreshing, I'll give it that. But I feel like Austin Powers, contemplating time-travel, for I too have 'gone cross-eyed.' I rented this (thank God I didn't see it in the theatre) and found myself rewinding because I was so confused! Sure, they really don't want you to guess the ending, but at the same time, they turn you around so many times try understanding it!

The acting is wonderful. I actually thought Eddie Izzard was great, as was everyone else. I cease to be surprised by John Hannah, who does drama and comedy equally wonderfully. Famke Janssen was interesting enough, and her hick boyfriend was entertaining, as was the little nerdy guy, though his character sort of annoyed me.

I think that this film certainly could've been a lot better...this film-maker had the actors, they just needed to work with the story a little more. Had they taken away some of the twists and turns, they might've gotten a better film.

By the way, these are not all English actors. John Hannah is Scottish. And another thing, I certainly wouldn't compare this to Trainspotting, as Trainspotting was pure brilliance, and this is rather blemished.
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Thumbs up for John Hannah
lucky-5212 May 2004
The movie was funny with many unexpected turns, the characters were hilariously overdone, almost comic book style. The fabulous John Hannah did a great job portraying the con man that got conned, but did he? This underrated Scottish actor is very talented and it is good to

see him in more prominent roles. Fred Ward was great in the role as picture book American "baddie". Famke Janssen was a bit bland but is always nice to look at. The movie was very entertaining, I watched it from beginning to end which is unusual for me. Thumbs up!I definitely recommend it to people with a sense of humor.
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It takes all sorts
eddie-832 April 2002
I was fascinated to read the range of opinions on `Circus' from `awesome, breathtaking, brilliant' and most things between right down to `Golden Turkey candidate'. I find myself in the latter camp.

The producers obviously thought that if they mixed plenty of over-the-top violence with barrages of four-letter expletives they'd have another `Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels' on their hands. A pity that they forgot to include wit, style, charm and flair. And it was certainly a mistake to feature a visit to Welles' classic `The Lady from Shanghai' thus serving to remind us how much better cinema can be.

John Hannah gets his shirt off at every opportunity, a huge American drives around in a Mini Minor as `Circus' pathetically strains for cult status and even the beautiful Amanda Donohoe can't add any class to these proceedings.

If you want to see a good Brit film try the sublime `Wonderland'
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Intelligent drama
lje3267711 October 2003
"Circus" is an intricate tale of a married couple who are scam artists. The couple get involved with a Scottish gangster who begins to control the husband, Leo. As the story progresses the couple works desperately to release themselves from the grip of the gangster. I had great sympathy for the couple, but at the same time unsympathetic about the fact that they had gotten themselves into the mess. I was riveted by the story and was extremely satisfied with the ending.

Definitely recommended.
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an overpacked confusing film
kingyhtd26 June 2007
Circus could have been so much better if they had reduced the number of twists and developed each better the film features a very gifted cast that mostly perform well , however it totally loses the audience basically everyone is back stabbing everyone else and not back stabbing them at the same time because they are backstabbing someone else and working with .... did i lose you? well the film is even more confusing clearly written by a first timer writer , it has some redeeming qualities though in the acting especially Famke Janssen shines as Lily but sadly gets a lot of USELESS screen time just standing there doing nothing.....the dialogue is a bit cheesy and the accents sometimes irritating but its still worth watching if you're a fan of any of the actors especially John and Famke who get the most screen time just remember to watch it with a notebook so you can write down who is double crossing who every second....
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This and that and this and...
Finne21 March 2003
There's seldom a movie which requires to be seen twice only because you're not sure if you have understood everything the first time... well, now I have experienced that also. The reason to watch the film was duo Hannah / Stormare, and they surely did fine performances both! Some scenes were absolutely hilarious and as I had seen John Hannah as Rebus before this film, it was a great reminder that he also has immense gifts for comedy! And all those facades Peter Stormare had as Julius, they were a pleasure to see! Famke Janssen was a new face to see and one I gladly see in other productions also. What comes to cast, I have no bad words to say. But what comes to the director/producer... the story jumps to and fro between past and present and scenes get damn confusing... you didn't know what it was you were seeing... Anyway, 8/10, not bad, but those points were only saved by the excellent cast and the fact that I think the original manus might have been pretty good. It was just spoiled by someone who wanted to be "unpredictable and innovative". Besides, after seeing the movie twice I still have the feeling I've missed something...
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Complex suspense, NOT a comedy
RichM-68 May 2002
If you were expecting a comedy, be prepared to be disappointed. This is not a funny movie. It is often violent, and sometimes more graphic than need be, but... It was interesting, complex, and had a multilayer feel to it. Who is betraying whom? The dialog wasn't bad, the acting somewhat stylized (a la a David Lynch movie) but not to the point of distraction. It has a certain amount of the feel of "Snatch", moving in the parts of English not-so-nice society. And in the end, you're glad that the "good" guy wins (although he is willing to do, and see things done, that would hardly qualify him as a "good" good guy.)
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Hilarious film - much better than Snatch
copykat20 April 2001
This film was a breath of fresh air. I won't go into plot details, as they have been divulged already. But Eddie Izzard was most amusing, and I was also surprised with Brian Conley, who I usually hate, who portrayed a villain with ease.

John Hannah was very well cast as the laid back, likeable crook.

After watching Snatch (which I thought was an entertaining, but well off-par sequel to Lock Stock) it was refreshing change to see Circus. Admittedly, it isn't as good as Lock Stock, but doesn't try to run in the same lane. It's good old off-beat comedy.

This film will not be liked by Americans for two reasons.

1) It contains irony & sarcasm

2) It is an English film with English actors

Maybe this is why we don't do very well at the Oscars!!
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More twists than you can shake a stick at ...
mraath19 February 2001
... and that's the problem. They become tedious after a while - when you can guess then next twist time after time, you realise that a movie has lost its spark. A great pity, because it could have been an enjoyable film. As it was, I felt that it was yet another formulaic "Britflick" gangster film. Approach with caution.
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Fun and Games with a surprising cast
Mr.K5 June 2000
This under-rated British film was unfairly slammed by critics, when it could have been a lot worse. It could have been better also, but it satisfies as a roaring bit of gangster fun and a subtle satire on the British "Lock, Stock..." genre.

John Hannah stars with Ms Janssen as a pair of crooks who are out to rip off Brian Conley for one last time. Along the way, everyone double crosses everyone, and the final scenes make one's head spin!

Brian Conley plays a rather good bad guy, given the quality of his British television shows, and great support is given by the various cast members, with special mention to Eddie Izzard who plays money lender Troy. His habit of paraphrasing songs and singing them to Leo ("R E P A Y M E - You know what it means to me" to the tune of Franklin's "Respect"), and the scene at the beach make for hilarious viewing.

One to be recommended for those with enough tongue in their cheek!
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Worst Film Ever!
thefilmreview27 April 2005
This film could of been a hell of a lot better if they didn't use Brian Conley as a gangster and if they didn't start the film with Christopher Biggins.

When I watched this film I had absolutely no idea what was going on. There were too many double crosses and plot twists to make the film believable. The film deserves a 0, but seeing as I there isn't a 0 I gave it a 1.

I wouldn't recommend this film to my worst enemy, I would rather poke out my eyeballs with some rusty scissors than watch this film again. I'm telling you, that was an hour and a half of my life I won't get back.

If you want to watch a gangster film, don't get this. Watch "Going Off Big Time" or "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" instead.
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Don't waste your time at this big top
mab84851 June 2004
Boring, cliched and predictable. The only original bit was the Brighton location for gangsters. It is certainly no "Lock Stock etc......." Hannah was likeable in "Sliding Doors". In "Circus" I developed no empathy with his character and couldn't give a toss what happened to either him or his girlfriend. Although this movie was so cliched and predictable the ending was no surprise I was so uninterested I didn't even care why the movie was given the name "Circus"....... Booooring.......Don't visit this big top.
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Good cast suffers from convoluted and confusing plot
deathscythe_4228 November 2009
I had never heard of this film before today, but my father found it at goodwill for a dollar and bought it just to see if it was any good, and we just watched it a couple hours ago.

All in all I will say I enjoyed this film, but only after I realized that the plot-line would be very difficult to follow and I would be best-off just sitting back and enjoying the character interactions. That being said, I think I actually followed the majority of it but just barely.

The film was enjoyable because the characters are interesting and the acting is very good all-around. John Hannah put on a pretty good performance. Before tonight I had never seen him in anything other than The Mummy films, which I also quite enjoyed him in, and I must say I wish he was in more films. Very good character-acting from the other actors involved. I particularly enjoyed Eddie Izzard as the quirky yet tough bookie.

However, the film suffered a great deal in the plot-line. The plot was clever, yes, but it was much too convoluted. A lot of things flew by really quickly and even for a person used to complex plot-lines it was hard to follow. Not only that, but it didn't seem like there was much of a distinct plot-line to begin with it. It seemed like things were just happening, and then they all kinda fell together in the end. On top of that there were far too many twist. I got the feeling that the filmmakers really wanted to throw in a twist every five minutes. This kept you guessing but it served to give the viewers really no grip on what was going on at all.

The film would have done much better to lessen the amount of twists and turns, and establish a solid plot-line that the viewers could get a grip on, and let them think they actually know what's going on for a little while, and then start throwing in curve-balls. Of course, I am not the filmmaker, and who am I to tell them how to make their film? But that's just how I feel I would be better gripped by a film of this natur.

All that being said, this film really was enjoyable due to the acting and characters despite being quite mediocre plot wise. 6/10
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I Love Eddie!
TheJiglett30 December 2003
And I thought that since he is on the cover and is 4th billed, hey, Eddie must have a big part in this movie. I was sorely mistaken. The time he was on screen (3 short scenes) was fantastic. He sings! Many times and is freaking adorable. Unfortunately, this movie was overly complicated and lost my interest. It was decent but nothing amazing, My point being, if you are going to see this movie just for Eddie Izzard, you might be disappointed.
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An under-rated Brit-flick.
supergnome925 June 2003
Circus is an enjoyable film worth watching if only for Eddie Izzard's character. That's one thing this film has - character. It also has a good plot, though the acting is a little dodgy in places.

Possibly the reason it is rated so low by those in the US that do the TV guide starring system is because they don't put much emphasis on character and substance, and may not have been able to follow the plot.

If you want explosions and mindless action with no real plot go watch a Hollywood blockbuster. If you want a little gem that keeps you interested then give this film a try.
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Best British Film of the year so far
Andrew Devonshire9 August 2000
Despite the unjustified negativity that this film has received I found it to be very entertaining and often hilarious in parts. It was original and has been one of my favourite films this year.

It seems impossible in recent years to comment on a British crime film without mentioning Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, supposedly one of the best of 90's British films, so why brake from that tradition because I found this film to be greater in every respect. The lines were funny because of the characters, not because of sarcastic wise cracks or insults. The bad guys were bad and the good guys were good, yet in Lock Stock there was such a viciousness that I didn't know with characters to sympathize with.

This film is more like the old British crime films such as The Italian Job than Lock Stock could ever be. However, I did feel that the inclusion of so many American characters to reach that market was a bit too much, which the other films didn't feel the need to do.

To enjoy this film don't go expecting to see a gritty realistic crime film, although many scenes are gory, just watch a comedy about crime and gangsters and you'll enjoy it more. Viewed as a comedy first is how the film works, apart form Eddie Izzard and John Hannah I don't know how big any of the British cast are in America, but in the UK many of them are famous for having their own comedy series, Brian Conley in particular removed any doubt from my mind about how good the film was, because he was able to turn his comic image on its head and use a brilliant performance as a weapon on an unsuspecting audience.

Enjoy this film as it really is - THE BEST BRITISH MADE FILM THIS YEAR!
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