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94 minutes · 2012
Pierre Etaix clowned for a circus before breaking into films, and his wonderful second feature (1965) pays loving tribute to a form of entertainment that was already being eclipsed by mass media. A millionaire (Etaix) fathers a son with a glamorous circus bareback rider; years later the son (Etaix again), a beloved clown named Yoyo, sets out to rehabilitate his late father's decrepit mansion. The film is conceptually brilliant (the first third is modeled on silent comedy, the second on talkies, and the last on TV) and often beautifully surreal (a door at the end of a hallway suddenly opens onto a circus ring). The comic climax, in which an elephant invades the mansion during a swank party, is heavily reminiscent of Luis Buñuel, and in fact Jean-Claude Carriere, who wrote the script with Etaix, later collaborated with Buñuel on Belle de Jour, The Milky Way, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and The Phantom of Liberty. In French with subtitles.

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