Starring Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov. Written and directed by Andrew Adamson. G. 91 min. Opens Dec. 21.
Worlds Away probably doesn’t mean to suggest that Hell is Cirque du Soleil. But what other conclusions can we draw about a film whose protagonist gets sucked underground only to discover the subterranean home-base of the world’s most famous performance troupe, who proceed to assault her with elaborately choreographed displays of their unholy flexibility?
The narrative framing device is the weakest aspect of Andrew Adamson’s film: It’s hard to imagine anyone actually being worried about whether Mia (Erica Linz) will ultimately connect with her love-at-first-sight crush, The Aerialist (Igor Zaripov), especially since the longer they’re kept apart, the more opportunities there are for the Cirque’s members to add to their high-wire highlight reel. Worlds Away combines scenes from seven of the troupe’s productions, including self-contained selections from the Beatles-themed LOVE. Thrown together, they play out as a grueling, multicoloured jumble.
There are a couple of stunning moments, like a chase sequence across a massive rectangular surface rotating at a 90 degree angle. But after a while, the cast’s writhing and gesticulating grows wearying. Without the undercurrent of suspense that attends a live performance—specifically, the possibility that someone might stumble at any time—the film feels less like a descent into another world than a 3-D victory lap for a brand that has already conquered this one.