The erotic novelist Taeko is writing a morbid story of a family destroyed by incest, murder and abuse. Her assistant, Yuji, sets on a mission to uncover the reality of this story, but the reality might be too much to bear. Add Synopsis In Portuguese
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With themes dealing with incest, molestation, rape, depersonalization, mutation and transexuality, Sono takes you to a dark and disturbing journey. An unforgettable one. I've always seen Sono's works as ambiguous, weird and bizarre. Strange Circus might have just brought that to another level, rivaling even that of Takeshi Miike's standards.
This film deals a lot with the deconstruction of collectivism which really is a trait of Japanese society compared to the more individualistic trait of western society. You destroy one, you destroy the other. You create one, you take the other. The use of a traditional family (father, mother and child) is an example of that. Their home, one that looks more Western also shows that.
And Sono deconstructs family here, ultimately, to find individual identity for the characters. It's not an entertaining film. It's poetic in the most disturbing and weird way. There's a lot of metaphors, a lot of dark and bloody visuals. The white walls symbolizing innocence and purity is tainted with the horrors that unfold. And that last scene. So much symbolism. Anyone would think it's weird. But it actually meant a lot (and a satisfying close too) to the film's overall story.
Ultimately, the very ambiguous ending and non-linear storytelling tests the audience. Presenting you a disturbing way to tell a story, it asks if you indeed, as a viewer, were paying attention. Can you tell what's real or not? Sono takes you in, tries to make you think you understand it, only to stab you in the back with a plot twist that makes you question your own judgement. That part reminded me so much of Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue. That psychological mindfuck.
Perhaps, the only problem that I have is the ambiguity of the story seems like it's going no where. The story itself doesn't have a goal, at least it wasn't established until the last 40-30 minutes of the film. You, the audience have a goal which is to figure out what the heck is happening. And if you don't know what's happening because of the huge ambiguity, that's a problem too.
Was I disturbed? You bet I was. But it's not because of the blood and gore. I was much more disturbed watching Miike's Audition. But the themes here are ones that will put a lot of people off. The rather surprising (and at the same time) cliche plot twist as well. It's a film that's a lot to take in, it's not enjoyable. But the masterful storytelling is one to applaud this film for.