Remember that guy who used to do all the voice-overs, particularly of action films? He had a really, really deep voice. That guy, take a deep breath, put on your best deep voice and…imagine a world where clowns are an ethnic minority.
Murphy Rhodes writes, directs, produces and stars in this short film with just such a premise. Richard (Rhodes) is a clown; he has a red nose, a white face, painted smile, but he’s anything but jolly.
He can’t see his son, who is being bullied because he’s a clown too, and his boss Barry, Neil MacDonald (“Our Eddy”, “Gnomes (Short)”), has just let him go.
On the verge of suicide, his ex-partner hands him the number of a surgeon who has worked on his son. The surgeon claims to be able to turn clowns, ‘normal’. Richard goes along and has the first of three surgeries, but it’s not what he wants, he just wants to be considered normal as he is.
I think I’m right in the assumption that Once A Clown is a somewhat sideways look at discrimination. Rhodes has taken an exaggerated persona, the clown, and made it an ethnic minority to show the stupidness of discrimination against someone just because they aren’t you.
It is a really, very good idea and a very noble film. However, Rhodes doesn’t provide enough other clowns for us to get a good sense of the discrimination at play. That may sound odd, but because we are focussed on just one person, because the ethnic minority is so exaggerated, it feels like you’re watching a former clown, now an alcoholic, have a nervous breakdown.
Perhaps though, I’ve got it all wrong, and that’s what I’m meant to be seeing, in which case great.
That aside, it’s a great performance from Rhodes, it’s the quiet moments, when he’s reflective, moody, or when he’s angry and impassioned that he shines the brightest.
Once A Clown is a wonderful premise, it’s well acted and shows heaps of promise from Rhodes in all three areas: writing, directing and acting.