Cine Las Americas 2012 Review: O PALAHCO (The Clown)

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)


Brazilian writer/director Selton Mello also stars in the title role of this movie which tells a “Prodigal Son” type parable of a depressed clown who grows up in the circus under his father’s tutelage, but is ready for a change.   Benjamin (Mello) has only known the circus his entire life.  As an adult he has assumed more responsibilities assisting his father Valdemar (Paulo Jose) with the management.   Benjamin finally reaches a breaking point and decides to leave the family business when he meets a lovely circus fan.  Benjamin takes an office clerk job, but discovers that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. 

Mello who co-wrote the script with Marcelo Vindicato has a definitive style in his presentation of this age-old tale.  While I like the movie overall, I felt that his  slow and deliberate pace in this picture made the film drag too much, especially in the first couple of acts.  I also take some issue with the ease and simplicity of the conflict’s resolution.  The parable may be a simplistic one, but in a real-world context, life and the decisions people face can be much more complex than as portrayed here.  Benjamin reaches the somewhat expected conclusion, but I feel that Mello’s story takes too long in the setup and rushes its resolution.  Mello definitely is a talented filmmaker and actor and I absolutely want to see more of his work.  I just feel that the limitations of the script here don’t fully utilize his potential.

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