Who deserves to live, and who should die?
Imagine waking up, trapped in a room with several dozen strangers, and you find out that the group gets to vote on who lives or dies —crazy huh? These are people you don’t know, let alone trust, and now your life is in their hands. Can you survive and find a way to escape before it’s too late? —Can you? I don’t know, but this is the premise of a wonderful film from Kino Lorber called Circle.
Written and directed by Aaron Hann, and Mario Miscione, Circle is a mystery, wrapped in a drama, inside psychological thriller. But even more than all of that, it is a study in human behavior, and what people might do in very dire circumstances.
Hann and Miscione’s script is filled with tension, which is no easy feat considering the whole film takes place in one weird room that is completely dark, except for the red circles on the floor, and the florescent lights bearing down overhead.
Not once however did the single room scenario hamper this film. It never feels claustrophobic or limited in any way, and that just shows what a fantastic script it is, as well as how skillfully Circle is directed by this duo.
In the special features Hann and Miscione talk about being influenced by 12 Angry Men. Well they manage to make an outstanding movie without appearing as if they are merely copying that classic film.
Another mind-boggling factoid is this; Circle has a cast of more than 40 people —whoa! However I am never overwhelmed by that amount, especially since the body count increases with each harrowing minute. For the few characters who are featured, the audience is able to get a sense of who they are, even though we are privy to very little about their background. Truthfully there isn’t time to delve into the pasts of these strangers, because the group is only given minutes to decide who lives and dies before some unseen force decides for them. Still, we are able to feel empathy for some, indifference toward others, and sheer hatred for a few of the more unsavory types.
Hann and Miscione’s script allows the actors, no matter how small the part, to really hone in on their characters. Even in that limited time, they are fully dimensional, real life people, under extraordinary pressure. I couldn’t imagine myself in that same situation, but throughout the film I kept asking myself, “What would I do?”
There are no real “stars” in Circle, but there are a few recognizable faces. Julie Benz, who I remember fondly from the Showtime series Dexter, gives a fantastic performance as “The Wife.” But really, Circle is a clinic on how an ensemble cast should work. These actors are spot on, and I believe every moment of every scene that they are in the fight of their lives.
Circle is a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation, and considering it takes place in a dark room, the optics are great. The Dolby 5.1 audio is crystal clear, and it has to be because this is a dialogue heavy film. Extras include an informative Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, audio commentary, and the film’s trailer.
This seems like another independent gem that didn’t garner the attention it deserved. If you get a chance to see Circle, I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity. The film does more than just entertain the audience, it forces you to take a look at yourself —and you may not like what you see.
2016, Kino Lorber, 86 minutes, NR (2014)
VIDEO: 2.35:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) SUBTITLES: English SDH
EXTRAS: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Trailer ACCOMPLICES: IMDB