Circle of Friends

Another rites of passage film. I swear it makes yourself ask why film production companies don't grow up. This time we're all expected to transfer our minds and emotions to the Ireland of 1957. If you're old, it's romantic; if you're Irish, it's nostalgic; if you're young, you couldn't care less.

Irish director Pat O' Connor manages to pack in some effective performances despite Andrew Davies' well written, but weak script. Although why the man who directed Cal has decided to give us this not-very-deep analysis of a set of outdated youth problems under the guise of memorabilia confounds me. O' Connor himself says, "Circle of Friends gave me a chance to show parallels. It tells a universal story -- it could be set in any small town in the world with the same small town mentality." I'll venture to go one further: it should probably remain in small town cinemas.

This is a love story and a chronicle of friendship between three women based upon the novel by Irish authoress Maeve Binchy (who has penned such other works as A Penny Candle and Firefly Lake). The performances of Minnie Driver, Geraldine O' Rawe, and Saffron Burrows are all adequate. Colin Firth, as usual, is flawless, although his appearance is a cameo. Alan Cumming never ceases to amaze me and I can only imagine what future holds for this multi-faceted actor ("Oh, dearie me!"). And who had the bright idea of sticking Chris O' Donnell (the boy from Winnetaka) smack dab in the middle of this film (a decision that smells suspiciously of box office appeal)? He's a nice actor and visually appealing, but unfortunately has a brogue that travels in and out of use for the duration of the film (whether or not he stems from some branch of Irish ancestry). Nevertheless, he also turns in a fine performance. So, when all is said and done, it's not so much the meat on the table, it's more a question of the meal itself. I'd rather spend the afternoon shopping on Grafton Street or lunching (if you know what I mean) at the Stag's Head than sitting in the cinema watching this one.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett