Intertwined. Phoebe (Brewster, top) tries to unravel the mystery of Faith and Wolf (Diaz and Eccleston).
The Invisible Circus

dir-scr Adam Brooks
with Jordana Brewster, Cameron Diaz, Christopher Eccleston, Blythe Danner, Patrick Bergin, Camilla Belle, Moritz Bleibtreu, Izabelle Pasco, Ricky Koole, Nicola Obermann
release US 2.Feb.01; UK 23.Feb.01
FineLine 01/US 1h38 2 out of 5 stars
Examining sibling relationships, 60s and 70s nostalgia and a personal voyage of discovery, this film's strong story (and one very good performance) can't quite elevate it above its made-for-TV style. Six years later, Phoebe (Brewster and, in flashbacks, Belle) still hasn't come to terms with the death of her father (Bergin) from cancer or her older sister Faith (Diaz) from an apparent suicide. So when she turns 18 and graduates from high school, she tears herself away from her mother (Danner) and heads off to Europe to follow Faith's final journey and solve the riddle of her death, reuniting with Faith's boyfriend Wolf (Eccleston) in Paris and tracking her journey to the coastal cliffs of Portugal. Lots of surprises await Phoebe along the road, both finding out about Faith and finding faith in herself.

The unravelling mystery is quite interesting, in an unusual sort of way. At least the storyline avoids most cliches, even if the film itself doesn't. And it looks quite good, with lots of location filming and a clever use of extended flashbacks. But the film is so fragmented and meandering that it's impossible to be taken away by it. The small story is overwhelmed by huge revelations and disturbing twists carefully dropped into the narrative, leaving the whole thing feeling both obvious and slight. Brooks' direction and script are occasionally lovely, although never insightful. The performances are good all around, but Diaz shines so brightly that we can't take our eyes off her. She's by far the most magnetic thing in here, so while we understand everyone's obsession with her, we're far more interested in her (ultimately contrived) story than we ever are in Phoebe's supposedly touching redemption, however compelling it should be.
adult themes and situations, language, drugs cert 15 19.Feb.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall