Picks and Pans Review: The Invisible Circus

updated 02/19/2001 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/2001 01:00AM

Cameron Diaz, Jordana Brewster, Christopher Eccleston, Blythe Danner

During a summer in the mid-'70s an 18-year-old (Brewster) heads to Europe with a backpack filled with old postcards. The cards were sent by her older sister (Diaz), who had made the same journey six years earlier and wound up dead, possibly a suicide, on a beach in Portugal. Now Brewster plans to retrace her sibling's steps, including looking up sis's old beau (Eccleston), to find out what happened.

The Invisible Circus, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Jennifer Egan, is a minor coming-of-age drama as diaphanous as the gauzy, oversize hippie shirts worn by Diaz's character, a flower child turned terrorist. Seen in flashbacks, Diaz smiles benevolently, but her role is woefully underwritten. Brewster shows promise but isn't up to the emotional challenges of her big scenes, a fact all the more obvious when she's playing opposite the ever fabulous Danner, who is cast as her mother. Danner can play subtext as naturally as the rest of us breathe. (R)

Bottom Line: Not ready for the big top

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