Carny

A good idea for a surly, sinister, antisocial movie (1980): a teenage girl (Jodie Foster) runs away with a carnival and discovers the exquisite, sadistic pleasure of running a good con. Someone must have had Freaks in mind, and some of that black, noxious atmosphere survives—along with an intimation of how warm and cozy it can feel. But the characters—despite the broad mean streaks the script gives them—emerge as soft and sentimental, and the plot is mired in a tired love triangle (Foster-Gary Busey-Robbie Robertson) that doesn't go anywhere. Robert Kaylor's direction is consistently, frustratingly wrong: it wouldn't take much trouble (or talent) to give the images a creepy expressionist charge, but Kaylor (a former documentary maker) keeps things on the level of banal, strained realism. With Meg Foster, Elisha Cook Jr., and Kenneth McMillan.

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