April 25, 1995 -- ``Circle of Friends'' is a bright, fresh new romantic comedy film in Laramie. This must be some kind of record, there are two good romantic comedies at once, ``Circle'' and ``While You Were Sleeping.''
I reviewed ``Sleeping'' last week because I saw the sneak preview. ``Circle of Friends'' is even better than ``While You Were Sleeping,'' but then I'm a sucker for Irish movies.
The story takes place in Ireland in the 1950s. It is a love story between the handsome Jack (Chris O'Donnell) and a plain girl, Benny (Minnie Driver). Although Benny is supposed to be plain and fat she is, in fact, possessed of a luminous inner beauty, a generous heart and a sharp mind. These are qualities that Jack learns to love.
The story contains not just one, but two strong women, Benny and Nan (Saffron Burrows). Nan uses her great beauty to get what she wants, she thinks. She too, suffers a tragic disappointment, but learns to rise above it. She comments that ``We women are stronger than you think.'' Such strong roles for women are very rare in today's movies.
The story grows more complex as the two young lovers face several crises with each other and individually. This film isn't just about love. It's about morality and being true to yourself and others.
This is a very well-written story by Andrew Davies. It's intelligent and moving and it never resorts to cheap melodrama. The film is also deftly directed by Pat O'Connor, who shows a lot of restraint. It rates an A.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.