The Ringmaster poster

‘The Ringmaster’ starts as a silly study about a man fascinated with a documentary about food, and ends up being a dark movie about a relentless obsession.

Directed by: Molly Dworsky, Dave Newberg.

Country: United States.

Genre: Documentary.

Running time: 88 minutes.

As a film critic, I’ve always tried to look at films from an objective point of view. It’s a general attitude that serves the purpose of analyzing film as a final result, without necessarily tampering it with events that took place behind the camera. Sure, sometimes it’s pretty obvious we cannot separate the creation process because no art is worth the damage. And this is something I believe the directors of The Ringmaster are familiar with, even if they don’t admit it. If I could thank them personally, I would. Not because of a film they did, but because they are responsible for stopping a project that had already gone too far.

This is something I never thought I could write: The Ringmaster is a fantastic ride of a film, one that tells the story of onion rings, the master behind their creation, and the young man obsessed with both of them.

Zachary Capp is a very lucky guy. His grandfather has left him a very large sum of money when he passed away, and now he’s seeking his dream. He wants to make films. But he settles for making a “TV show about food”. He decides his subject is onion rings, more specifically a plate prepared by a man known as Larry Lang. Zachary gathers a large crew to make a big film. He buys state of the art equipment and “even drones”, as he says it. When he starts shooting the film, he starts seeing Larry as the perfect opportunity to make some profit. A few commitments involving rock stars and unfulfilled deals shows him Larry is not very interested. Somehow, he manages to finish the film.

But the story doesn’t end there. The Ringmaster is actually “two stories in one”. And what happens after Zachary reaches his goal, is nothing short of unsettling.

I won’t reveal much. It’s something better seen than told. The Ringmaster is a backlash of a movie, one that doesn’t hide the main man behind the production. It’s impossible to stop the imminent opinion of what Zachary does to accomplish his main objective. And even if such objective is not very clear, his tranquility is staggering. When the world falls apart for a very innocent man, it’s time to let go, at least that’s what we think should happen.

The Ringmaster is a greatly tragic journey that holds no boundaries for showing the truth behind a decision well taken by someone whose failures are clear and quite heavy. Deciding to do more and more, and showing it on film, does not play well for him. However, there wasn’t any other possible way to tell the story of The Ringmaster. Even if before the credits, there’s a valid confirmation of something we all suspect, the camera never stops shooting. A moral landslide abruptly finishes the film and lets Larry Lang rest. That’s what he’s supposed to do.

This is a very surprising movie. One that divides awesomely the two stories it needs to tell, and tells the events with great precision. I really thought it was a silly film about a man not wanting to be included in a film, but whose creations almost forced him to. Nevertheless, The Ringmaster is a compelling story about how failure drives you to blindness if there’s a promise of success at the end of the tunnel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

A trailer

With information from YouTube, IMDB

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