Atomik Circus

Atomik CircusAtomik Circus, le retour de James Bataille

Didier Poiraud, Thierry Poiraud :: France, Germany, UK :: 2002 :: 1h30

A small dusty town far removed from civilisation prepares for their annual party. The pack of village oddball tooth-missing outcasts is run by Bosco, the owner of the local hotel/ nightclub. His daughter is to be the leading star of the event’s talent show, the sexy singing Concia (Vanessa Paradis), who dreams of nothing else than to make it big. Just as the event begins to take shape, Stuntman James Bataille (Jason Flemyng) shows up on the scene. He spots Concia. Concia spots James. The father Bosco sees the whole thing unfold before his eyes and can barely contain his rage…

When the stuntman slips up, Bosco grabs his chance and has James sent away for a long time. But James gets lucky, escapes and is on his way back to Concia. At that same time, however, there are two other unlikely elements on their way in. A slick city-boy scoundrel whose vintage car needs repairs and whose eye has fallen on the innocent charms of Concia. As he is homing in, a flock of extra-terrestrial octopus and other dimensional spinning ninja stars descend on the dust bowl for a carnage. The volume of the rock and roll gets turned up and a B-film orgy of limb-cutting extravagance splashes out onto the screen.

Atomik Circus is an instant cult classic, bursting with originality, absurdity and is insanely funny. As it mixes genres, it is hard to categorise as you are still laughing from one scene as you are thrust into the absurdity of the next. You realise very quickly that bringing in your innate logic will only make matters worse in this world. After a while you even notice that you have no idea in which country we are in, as the characters speak a provincial French but find themselves in a run-down contemporary far west. That estrangement is further amplified by the constant unexpected reactions of the characters who remain stoically placid in the face of insult, injury or the downright ridiculous.

It is hard to believe this is a first movie for the Poiraud brothers, but easy to believe it is based on their own (unpublished) comic book. That no doubt also helped the angles of the photography and the movement of the filming, which runs in with the actors to where the action is. The special effects, photography and the avant-guard (Little Rabbits) music all contribute to this brilliant absurd stationary road movie. A fantastic late night film which will transport you into an alternate reality, one with a lot of humour and a good doses of the surreal. Do not miss it.


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