Posted by: Haley Hastings | February 28, 2010

Review: ‘The Tightrope’

Shared by Lisa Appleton, an advanced magazine writing student at MU. The Missourian is featuring reader contributions all weekend. If you’d like to submit your photos, stories or reviews, send them to

When I think of a tightrope, I think of balance, and this movie was anything but balanced. Director Nuria Ibanez gives the viewer a look into the life of a traveling family circus in Mexico that is struggling to make ends meet. The family is passionate about their craft, but no one else seems to be. The audience is always scarce, which means the family is bringing in a very small profit. Like balancing on a tightrope, they are trying to balance what they love and how to survive.

Although the premise of the movie seems intriguing, that’s all there is to it. The family struggles, and they struggle some more. The only change in plot came at the end when the daughter and her husband got so frustrated they decided to quit the circus.

The endless repetition of performing and struggling for an hour and a half became exhausting. It left so many questions and I was unsatisfied walking out of the venue. They described their circus as traditional and thought maybe that’s why people weren’t going to the shows, but why wouldn’t you try to change some things to attract more customers? Where did the daughter go and find a new job? How did they make ends meet with all of their traveling? I got to see a part of what circus life is like, but the little dialog left the movie vague and I never felt like I knew the individual people.

I get that the director wanted the movie unbalanced. The way the movie was shot added to that, with the sometimes-shaky camera, eerie close-ups and odd shots of conversations from weird angles. One whole conversation was shot from the other side of a tarp so I could only see shadows. I like the concept, but five minutes could have gotten the point across without going a restless 85.


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