Charming but ever so slight, Sergio Citti's picaresque tale of three unlikely Magi is a welcome alternative to the usual holiday pap. Driven from one Italian village into the next, the hardscrabble "Circus of the Fly" entices audiences with the promise of "the
most ferocious of all beasts." But all the three scrappy clowns (Silvio Orlando, Patrick Bauchau and Rolf Zacher) really have to offer are themselves, dressed as German soldiers and sinister Mafiosi: Man, after all, is a very scary animal. That conceit doesn't go over particularly well with cabbage-flinging, circus-going crowd, and the performers themselves begin to reconsider their attitude after agreeing to play the three Kings in a small town's annual Epiphany pageant: That night, each man miraculously dreams the same dream in which God (Nanni Tamma) personally asks them to announce the arrival of the new Messiah. The trio go off in search of one very special baby, ultimately realizing that with every newborn babe, a messiah is born. It's a nice sentiment, but the film -- originally conceived by the late Pier Paolo Pasolini, Citti's friend and collaborator -- skips along at such a rapid clip that there's little time for anything really profound. Potential barbs fall a little short of the mark and admirable sentiments often sound platitudinous: "Race is like life: There is only one." But it's a winsome film nonetheless, well-intentioned, well-acted and quite entertaining. And while Citti's rather unenlightened attitudes toward women should not go unchecked, the "God bless us everyone" message is an enduring one, however seasonal it may sound.
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Charming but ever so slight, Sergio Citti's picaresque tale of three unlikely Magi is a welcome alternative to the usual holiday pap. Driven from one Italian village into the next, the hardscrabble "Circus of the Fly" entices audiences with the promise of… (more)