Movie Review – The Clown (2011): A Brazilian internal drama

Director: Selton Mello
Cast: Selton Mello, Paulo José, Larissa Manoela
Language: Portuguese

In the deep Brazilian countryside, where there are no cinemas or theaters, the circus is the main form of entertainment. They come once a year, raise their tent, make people laugh and then leave. But how do they lead their lives?

That’s what The Clown (2011), O Palhaço in its original Brazilian title, wants to discuss. The drama is set in the 70s and follows the life of Benjamin, a performer from the Esperança circus. The clown and his father, Valdemar, are the main attraction of the circus. With his life so strongly associated with his career, Benjamin starts questioning his identity and longing for a more stable life. He has never had any form of ID or proof of address. Being famous for his character, he has never had the time to find out who he is.

Differing from most Brazilian movies of repercussion abroad, The Clown does not focus on the social scenario. It shows the Brazilian countryside and focuses on the individual trajectory. The movie is also a good tool to understand the Brazilian popular humor, which goes around the lines of the slapstick style.

Since its release, The Clown has won the São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards and the Paulínia festival. Among critics and praises, the movie was selected as the Brazilian entry for the 85th Oscars on the Foreign Language movie category. 

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