Review: Circus Noel (2019)

Circus Noel (2019)

Directed by: Dennis Bots | 90 minutes | family | Actors: Luna Wijnands, Tommy van Lent, Samuel Beau Reurekas, Rein Hofman, Tygo Gernandt, Rosa Reuten, Jordy Schaap, Karlo Severdija, Steye van Dam, Ellis van den Brink, Rick Paul van Mulligen, Nick Vorsselman, Remko de Keijzer

“Hello, I’m Karo.” This is how twelve-year-old Karo invariably starts her vlogs. In the first scene of ‘Circus Noël’ (2019) we see that her vlog is so popular that she even receives viewer questions. The question on her mind in this episode is about true love. Karo is already well aware of all that is involved, but to her regret, the relationship between her parents is not going well. They argue continuously and she is not listened to. “Mom, I’m getting a tattoo, okay?” “Yes, it is fine dear, as long as you watch out,” is the reply. And also to Karo’s announcement that she is going to Ibiza, the mother (Rosa Reuten), who is busy with completely different things, knows no other answer than that it is all right.

Karo therefore soon leaves for Circus Noël, where her friends Victor and Tonie grew up. Karo secretly has a crush on Tonie and vice versa, but as big as Karo’s words during her vlog were, so small are her actions in Tonie’s company. And Tonie herself is, if possible, even more shy.

When the circus is allowed to participate in an important circus competition Cultura Nova, the stress factor in the modest family circus increases. There is work to be done! Meanwhile, Karo decides to leave her parents for good. Home is where the heart is, isn’t it? So Karo joins the circus, as a vlogger, to do some extra advertising for the performance.

Karo’s absence is not noticed until a day later. Karo’s mother panics and calls the police – Karo’s father is a lot more sober and wonders why his wife doesn’t call Karo herself first. But of course Karo doesn’t answer the phone, because she knows that her parents can trace her.

Another storyline in ‘Circus Noël’ centers on the aftermath of a past event in the circus, forcing the three friends to search for a former circus performer, wonderfully moody played by Tygo Gernandt.

‘Circus Noël’ is a spin-off of the twenty-part TV series from 2017 (one season, total running time 3 hours and 15 minutes). Foreknowledge is not necessary, but viewers are thrown right into the middle of the story. You feel like you’re missing something the first time Karo sees her friends again. That won’t really be a problem for the target audience, watching adults probably hope for a little more depth and the opportunity to bond with the characters. That hope is in vain.

‘Circus Noël’ briefly touches on the usual elements in children’s films, without elaborating them too satisfactorily: friendship, first love, difficulties with parents, divorce, jealousy, an exciting search for a possibly dangerous person… It feels like the screenplay is slightly too full, so that nothing actually gets the attention it deserves. The circus scenes are fun: it really is an old-fashioned family circus, where the humor should come from the slapstick-like scenes. The cast is solid, with Luna Wijnands as Karo and Samuel Beau Reurekas as Victor standing out among the youth. Nice for the fans, and perhaps it will bring in new viewers for the series.

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