Trying to pick up where “La Strada” left off, “Lost Horizon” is seriously in need of a focused script to tie its handful of grubby social outcasts together. Wandering from one cheesy circus to another in the Argentine outbacks, the magician Tulan and his women have some curiosity value as characters, but tyro director Luis Sampieri fails to inject meaning or interest into their suffering and dashed hopes. Beyond local biz, pic would seem to have distant horizons, indeed.
With his dyed red hair and tacky sword-swallowing and chain-busting acts, Spanish thesp Eusebio Poncela struts his waning masculinity as the great international artist Tulan. When his long-neglected wife commits suicide, he barely turns a hair. Like Fellini’s strongman Zampano mourning the gentle Gelsomina, he will learn how much he loved her only when it’s too late. Before that crisis, he turns his charms on an ingenue and the worldly-wise Jenifer (the fine Micky Ruffa), a likable, down-to-earth transvestite headed for a sex-change operation. Tech work is painfully no-budget. Most of the atmosphere comes from views of an immense, unpopulated desert plain that isolates the characters in a no man’s land.