Weekly Review: Circle (2015)

50 strangers awaken after being abducted. They find themselves situated in a circle. Any movement gets them killed, and in their panic, they begin to notice that people are dying at regular intervals. Who will live? Who will die? Who will decide?

This film was recommended to me by a friend. He had said some pretty positive things about it. For one, he said that “from the moment it starts, it jumps right in and you don’t need to pay attention. You WANT to pay attention”

I had seen the film around Netflix, but never really got around to wanting to watch it. After hearing this recommendation, my interest was definitely peaked, so I watched it as soon as the opportunity came my way. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I watched it again that very same day.

One of the things that really tends to mess me up is movies that really explore human nature. What will people do to other people for a better chance at survival? Circle definitely delivers this question multiple times in many messed up ways. The overall plot of the film centers around these 50 strangers, who have to vote to kill one person every couple of minutes.

This act of voting definitely brings a lot of social issues into play. The characters bring up pretty much every “ism” there is when deciding who deserves to live. We see classism, racism, homophobia and misogyny, just to name a few off of the top of my head. There are characters you root for and characters you hate, but make no mistake, no one is safe.

These social issues aren’t really discussed in depth because the characters don’t have the time for it. They can’t afford to get into deep social conversations when someone is dying every few minutes. Someone has to be chosen, no matter how messed up the thought process is.

Circle takes place entirely in one location, the circle. You would think that this would get monotonous after a while, in terms of camera work, but it surprisingly doesn’t. The film utilizes camera movement to make up for the lack of diversity in shots, sometimes panning or tilting to give the audience the chance to really grasp the gravity of the situation. Some of my favorite shots were when two people were on the chopping block from a tie, and a slow pan would reveal who was officially chosen to die. The audience really feels the empty space that way.

You would think that a movie that kills 49 people would be pretty gory. I know that’s what I was originally thinking. I’m not the biggest fan of gore, so that was definitely holding me back. The film handles it pretty well though, and there really is no gore at all. Apologies to the gore fans, but there isn’t any of that in Circle. This is a good thing though, in terms of story. The lack of gore allows you to look at how messed up the situation is, not because of the death itself, but of the reasoning behind each death (or lack of a reason).

While I did enjoy the movie, I will say that the ending could have been presented differently. I’m not saying that the ending should have been changed because it’s still a good example of what human nature really is. It just could have been presented differently. The movie seemed to end with a sizzle rather than with a memorable bang.

Overall, I definitely recommend Circle. I’ve already coerced one person into watching it, and they enjoyed it as well. From what I’ve seen on the internet, it seems to have decently positive reviews. None of the acting performances are terrible. I’d say give it a go.


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