If you buy the traditional circus as the ultimate metaphor for life-affirming humanity, then this Euro-financed dialogue-free vignette will put a smile on your face. Others, beware. In a unnamed wartorn landscape, which we presume hints at the Balkan conflict, a farmer mourns his wife after a military strike, but the arrival of the Circus Fantasticus in this isolated rural setting alters his perspective and brings new hope for his teenage children. Yes, there are stripy shirts, bowler hats, red noses, a fire-eater and a beautiful girl on the flying trapeze, as the family and these exotic newcomers find a meaningful co-existence.
But while Slovenian writer-director Janez Burger’s movie radiates sincerity, the message that war is bad and circus folk are lovely offers little in the way of surprise. Nor indeed does the device of everyone keeping schtum bring much to the party, the absence of talk limiting the complexity of the drama. A likeable cast and competent old-school circus acts prove an asset, but this is both wearingly self-conscious and a bit obvious.