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Mia (Kathleen Linz), a young woman in a small Mid- Western town, goes to a traveling carnival one evening, where she is urged by a silent clown (John Clarke) to visit the carnival's circus and see The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov), the show's star attraction. She is entranced by The Aerialist, but during his act he misses a catch and falls to the ground. She rushes to help him, but then the ground beneath them gives way and they fall through into the dreamlike world of Cirque du Soleil. Separated, they travel through the different tent worlds trying to find each other, interacting with the strange and wonderful performers and performances of Cirque du Soleil.

Review by Louise Keller:
Effectively using 3D to showcase a kaleidoscope of fantasy, choreographed acrobatics and music, this visually plush film dazzles by its elements and offers substantial rewards, yet the emotional connection never clicks into place. The miracle of the live Cirque du Soleil experience simply does not translate into film. I felt as though I had been invited to an extravagant banquet and while I was able to admire what was on offer, I never got close enough to satisfy my appetite. In the case of the film, it is not as though we do not get close enough to the action. Surprisingly, it is the close up that distances us from the experience, as perspective is lost and we find ourselves examining the intricate technicalities and workings of the extravaganza instead of being bewitched and transported by an exquisite fantasy world.

In trying to create the magic that represents the essence of six Cirque du Soleil live Las Vegas shows ('O', 'KA, 'Mystere', 'Viva Elvis', 'Zumanity' and 'The Beatles Love'), Shrek director Andrew Adamson's film uses a young girl (Erica Linz) as its conduit, inviting us, the audience to enter the dream-like fantasy world. As the girl searches for the elusive aerialist (Igor Zaripov) with whom she has fallen in love, one sequence bridges the next as segments from the various shows are embraced and incorporated. For most of the film, she watches from the sidelines, as an underwater ballet displays its eye-boggling, synchronised choreography, rocking horses float overhead, contortionists ply their flexible limbs, a flying metal ship doubles as a trapeze swing and a mid-air spear fight takes place. With negligible dialogue, the film relies greatly on its diverse music to bridge the segments.

Highlights include the spectacular Octopus's Garden segment (to the music of the Beatles song), in which acrobats on wires magically float high into the air in breathtakingly beautiful sea-anemone costumes that resemble mushroom parachutes from which delicate white tentacles stream. I also liked the segment in which the moon morphs into a huge glass fishbowl into which a glamorous, scantily clad temptress dives and contorts. It is not until nearly the end of the film, when Linz and Zaripov finally find each other and perform their joint acrobatics together in a mid-air pas de deux, that there is finally a connection of sorts.

I was mesmerized a few years ago at Cirque du Soleil's amazing, unforgettable production Le RÍve in Las Vegas - set in water and in the round. It was not just the theatrical innovation, artistic skill and wow factor that made it something special, but the intense emotional impact the show delivered. On film, it is impossible to replicate that live experience but I couldn't help but think that had Adamson not been so intent on dishing out such a huge smorgasbord, we might have been able to connect a little easier and felt more satisfied as a result. James Cameron's endorsement guarantees a quality 3D experience.

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(US, 2012)

CAST: Igor Zaripov, Erica Kathleen Linz, Lutz Halbhubner, John Clarke, Dalla Barnett

PRODUCER: Andrew Adamson, Martin Bolduc, Aron Warner

DIRECTOR: Andrew Adamson

SCRIPT: Andrew Adamson


EDITOR: Sim Evan-Jones, Dirk Westervelt

MUSIC: Benoit Jutras


RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 21, 2013

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