The Invisible Circus

Director: Adam Brooks

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Adam Brooks's vibrant adaptation of the Jennifer Egan novel, The Invisible Circus, is a stimulating journey of self-discovery and enlightenment for audiences and characters alike. Set in 1977, The Invisible Circus tells the story of a recent high-school graduate, Phoebe, who lives with her mother in San Francisco and becomes increasingly obsessed with memories of her sister, Faith, who died mysteriously (presumably by her own hand) six years earlier in Portugal. Against her mother's wishes, she undertakes a voyage to the European sources of her sister's postcards in an attempt to find answers that might unlock the secret of Faith's death.

Phoebe begins in Amsterdam, where she discovers little, then travels to Paris, where she locates Faith's ex-boyfriend Wolf and his French fiancée and begins to piece together her sister's earlier adventures. Caught up in revelations that are both disturbing and perplexing, Phoebe begins an inquiry that is as much about self-awareness and growth as it is about the escapades and exploration of an active and curious generation.

Fueled by sterling performances from Cameron Diaz, Jordana Brewster, and Christopher Eccleston, The Invisible Circus is an ambitious portrait of a time and place that many of us have intimately experienced but whose sensibilities are rarely portrayed with such accuracy. In this rather picaresque tale, Brooks vividly reconstructs the feelings and desires of growing up 30 years ago and astutely captures the questions that shape a young girl's coming of age.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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