This is the type of film I wish I would see more of its type. Well, if this film had a type, it really is a very singular affair. Set at first in Spain 1937, several clowns (literal clowns) get pressed into a battle between the forces of the Spanish Civil War. When one complains he's told that a clown in a dress with a machete would be the most terrifying thing on the field.
They weren't far wrong.
In the end the clown with the machete (a happy clown) is captured. His son tries to free him. The clown tells his son he will grow up to be a sad clown unless he gets vengeance. The son instead tries a jail break but his father is killed.
It's now 1973. The son has grown up to be a passive sad clown. He gets work in a no account circus. The leader of the show isn't the owner but the happy clown who is anything but happy. He's a raging drunk, and just plain raging. He mistreats his girlfriend horribly, beating her often. The trouble is, she likes it. Our clown is pulled into an odd game as the girl uses him to make the happy clown even more crazy with rage.
This can't be good.
The movie though is very good. It is odd without being some Tim Burton whack a thon. It has an interior logic and universe that makes everything work. The actors do a very good job. I love the "Bad" clown. Though he's a jerk, an asshole, and whatever else you want to call him, he's also an incredible professional when it comes to children. He's a villain that you are never QUITE sure how much you can hate him. Would things have gone different if he went to AA? Also, how much can you hate a man for beating up a masochist?
What's the old joke? The worst thing you can do to a masochist is nothing at all.
Definitely worth a watch and shoots up on my list of favorite clown movies.