Circus

2000, Movie, R, 95 mins

Review

CIRCUS
starstarstarstar
A tangle of bad intentions ensnare the shady characters who populate this stylish UK crime thriller. Con man Leo Garfield (John Hannah) and his equally crooked American wife, Lily (Famke Janssen), dream of escaping to a lazy life of fishing and drinking on the beach. The problem is money — in fact, everyone's problem is money. Leo is being strong-armed by local crime lord Bruno Maitland (Brian Conley), who wants Leo to run his casino in Manchester. Leo owes Bruno for past favors, and Bruno is in a vein-popping rage because the government is hounding him for non-payment of taxes. Bruno's brother Caspar (Ian Burfield) is furious because he wasn't asked to run the casino, and makes a call to Elmo (Fred Ward), Lily's ex; the two of them once robbed a bank together, and she took the money and ran. Leo is being dunned by his bookie (Eddie Izzard), a sadistic thug. And worst of all, Leo just accepted a lucrative murder-for-hire gig only to find that the client, Julius (Peter Stormare), is actually a fellow scam artist. The woman Leo killed wasn't Julius' wife; she was a hooker named Gloria (Amanda Donohoe) impersonating a wealthy housewife. Julius filmed the murder with a hidden camera and wants big bucks not to send the tape to the cops. Oh, and one more thing: The dead hooker happened to be the beloved girlfriend of Bruno's chief leg-breaker, Moose (Tiny Lister), and he's inconsolable now that she's disappeared. There's nothing hugely original going on here, but as twisty-turny crime thrillers go, this one is perfectly entertaining — unless you find John Hannah completely insufferable. Suffice it to say that everyone's story is more complicated than it appears, and pretty much everyone's double-crossing someone else — no wonder the local revival theater is playing THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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