Circle – 2015

Written and Directed by Aaron Hann, Mario Miscione
Starring Michael Nardelli, Carter Jenkins, Lawrence Kao, Allegra Masters, Julie Benz

Circle is one of those films where a group of people are caught in a room, discover that they are being selected to die one by one and then discover that they have the ability to choose who goes next through a voting system. I will describe little else, because the how and why is never really discussed. We see a bolt of lightning, then they fall off stage.

The key to a story like this one is just understanding the logic of the boat that can only fit so many people. Who gets to survive? Why do they get to survive? What makes one person more valuable than the next? Much of the film covers these questions, while making clear some people will talk a good game until those who have counter points are taken off of the board.

None of the actors are people most of us will recognize. I recognized Julie Benz by face and later by name but that’s it. The purpose behind this is intentional. We don’t want to have a clue who might survive.

The movie pushes along, getting rid of approximately one person per minute. The conversation rambles from person to person as they plead their case for who should go next. If you think women and children, you will find some people don’t agree with that notion. This is a point of contention for at least half of the 87 minutes running time.

We deal with many societal aspects: racism, sexism, orientation, ageism. Points are made in a rush, because they only have a minute to vote. Then boom. Gone. On to the next angle of persuasion.

This is a benefit for stagnation of plot, but it makes the analysis a bit sloppy. It’s tough to gain much insight when chaos creeps in so frequently. It’s not clear whether the filmmakers have a point to make beyond keeping us in suspense.

It works for what its worth. The viewer will have no need to watch the clock. The disappearing folks in a circular room take care of that. Still, the presentation feels more like a stage play than a film. It’s not that scary, but it passes the time wondering who will be next.

The end is a disappointment. The filmmakers have mystery on their side, and they choose to pull back the curtain. This will reveal something that’s bound to throw people into the feel of another movie.

(*** out of *****)

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