198. Circle of Friends

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Movie: Circle of Friends

Release Date: March 17, 1995

Director: Pat O’Connor

Starring: Minnie Driver, Chris O’Donnell, Colin Firth, Geraldine O’Rawe, Saffron Burrows, Alan Cumming.

Tag Lines: “Sometimes dreams do come true.”

“For everyone who ever thought the person they loved was out of their reach.”

Relevance: I wouldn’t necessarily say I was dragged to see ‘Circle of Friends,’ but it wouldn’t have been my first choice to see in theaters. At that time I was a Chris O’Donnell fan (still am today), but I was anticipating ‘Batman Forever,’ not an independent romantic drama. But I went. And I am very glad that I did.

Not only did I fall in love with the movie, it introduced me to Minnie Driver. Ms. Driver gave an outstanding performance as Benny and carried the film flawlessly. It was one of those performances that as soon as you witnessed it, you knew the actress was a force to be reckoned with. And she was (is). Soon after I watched the movie, I told my mom about it as it was totally “her” kind of film. When the movie was released for rental, I did just that and watched it with my mom. As suspected, she loved it, so much in fact that she bought it on VHS as soon as she could. Ms. Driver became a favorite of my mom. She loved her, her movies and her performances and it was all thanks to ‘Circle of Friends.’

The movie also introduced me to two other actors that I have become huge fans of as well. Colin Firth and Alan Cumming didn’t play lovable characters in the movie, but I was intrigued by their performances. Throughout the years, as they reached fame as Academy Award winning and Tony Award winning (respectively) performers, I always thought back to ‘Circle of Friends.’ How two charming, funny, respectable men got into the skin of those repugnant characters is a testament to their fine acting skills. Even when I met Alan Cumming after a Broadway performance of “Cabaret,” I kept thinking, “Ewww, Sean Walsh!” Luckily I was smart enough to keep that thought in my head.

After watching ‘Circle of Friends’ in the theater, I immediately searched out the novel by Maeve Binchy of which the movie was based. I love when art leads to other art and I am always interested in the differences and similarities between the two media. I loved both equally and as I always say in regards to film adaptations of novels, as long as the overall atmosphere and intent of the story is present, I am okay with any deviations. ‘Circle of Friends,’ the movie, was definitely successful in capturing the novel’s spirit and it remains one of my favorite films of all time.

Today’s Thoughts: “You mustn’t mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros, but I’ve got quite a thin skin really.”

Every time I visit my parent’s place, I always see ‘Circle of Friends’ staring back at me from their movie collection, and I smile. Although I haven’t watched the movie in quite a few years, I often think that my mom probably has. Like I said, it was her type of movie and she loved her some Minnie Driver. I know how much she watched another one of her films, ‘Return To Me,’ and I could only imagine ‘Circle of Friends’ got just as much attention from her.

As I just mentioned, it has been awhile since I watched ‘Circle of Friends,’ so I was very excited to sit down and watch it again today. Not surprisingly, it is as funny and charming as I remembered it. Beautifully directed by Pat O’Connor, the film is lovely on so many levels, but the acting ensemble is definitely at the top of that list. Each actor, whether in a large or small role, is so effective it makes it such a joy to watch. Colin Firth still makes me angry. Alan Cumming is still as sleazy and repulsive as ever, and so good at it. Chris O’Donnell is charming, lovable and absolutely adorable, only outdone by Ms. Driver. Her performance is why this movie works so much. She is flawless in the role and I could never tire of watching her say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I look like the prow of a ship!”

‘Circle of Friends’ is a wonderful novel and a glorious movie and I highly recommend both, whether you are a romantic drama fan or not. The story and the acting are enough to appease even the hardest of hearts and cause a few smiles and possible a few tears as well.

Ways to Watch: HBO Max, DVD Availability.

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