With an 11th day tacked onto the end of the fest, the last Midnight Madness screening no longer provides the same sense of closure. Instead, my final film of TIFF10 was this delightful, intense, batshit crazy clown film from Spain.
Set in the late 30’s, a man in full clown garb is pulled from a performance he’s given to a group of children and made to join in the Republican fight, slaughters a number of people with a Machete, and finds himself in a work camp. His young son fails at helping his father escape, and years later takes up his mantle by being a “Sad Clown” and joins a circus. His fellow clown, the “Silly Clown”, is a drunken, abusive wretch of a man, with the two fighting over a beautiful women, her loyalties torn between the two.
The metaphor for Spain itself is hardly masked, ripped apart as it was between the silly and the sad. The combative relationships between the two clowns elevate to such ridiculous levels that we’re left in some madcap KING KONG/NORTH BY NORTHWEST conclusion. Mixing bleak, black humour with a cutting political edge, BALADA TRISTE plays its tune well, a Guernica-meets-Hitchcock with psychotic clowns affair, and it served as a tremendous conclusion to this year’s festival.