The Invisible Circus

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director/Writer:Adam Brooks
Fine Line Features; R; 92 minutes
Cast:Jordan Brewster, Cameron Diaz, Christopher Eccleston

At any given moment, there are thousands of young Americans wandering around Europe, strapped in to underdeveloped dreams and a heavy-duty, unwashed backpack. Breathtaking vistas await, postcards are purchased and sent, but the journey lacks real purpose or intent. In The Invisible Circus, flower-powered revolutionary Faith O'Connor (Cameron Diaz) heads to the Old World on such a journey. Before jumping to her death off a picturesque Portuguese cliff, Faith has time to team up with German terrorists and traipse through Paris. A decade later in 1976, Phoebe O'Connor (Jordana Brewster) retraces Faith's steps, determined to discover exactly what befell her idolized older sister. Along the way she rendezvous with Faith's old boyfriend Wolf (Christopher Eccleston), who has since left the protest life for a swank Parisian flat.

Being John Malkovich proved that Cameron Diaz isn't afraid to dress down, and her bad-hair hippie persona sparkles. Diaz lives Faith's myth and its undoing. Brewster breathes life into her role as a soul-searching sleuth, but neither actress receives enough support from the script. Their characters never come to fruition. The exotic backdrops to the sisters' adventures lack a foreground.

The Invisible Circus is based on a novel by Jennifer Egan. The film substitutes the book's complexity and precision for a series of flashbacks, a hallucination or two, and a lazy “I went to Europe to find myself”—style ending. A more accomplished director could have given the film much-needed weight and direction.

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