Three girlhood friends now at college share first loves, first kisses and first betrayals. At the center of it all is the best-looking boy on campus. Can a self-conscious dreamer hook the biggest fish in the pond? ' 'A mar... more »velous romantic comedy' ' (Siskel & Ebert)« less
Jessica S. (jess83) from CHARLESTON, WV Reviewed on 4/21/2012...
I loved this movie! It is a must see!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Patti S. (Pattakins) from LA VERNE, CA Reviewed on 1/11/2008...
This is a great coming of age, and falling in love, film about 3 friends who grow up together in Ireland. The friends come from different social and economical backgrounds, but it doesn't matter to them. I truely enjoyed this feel good movie.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Minnie Driver driving a movie that's all there
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 07/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Set in post-World War II Ireland, namely the late 1940's and late 50's, Circle Of Friends tells of three girls, Eve, who was raised in a convent because her parents died, the stunning Nan Mahon, and the plain but pleasant and charming Benny Hogan, who's father is the local tailor. She narrates the film from time to time, and Minnie Driver's charming voice aids in what's quite a charming little movie about being sure of and true to oneself despite changes.
The three go to the college in Dublin, attend classes, and go back on the 10 past 6 bus to the village. In an anthropology class, she learns of an obscure tribe and their culture, one of which is that men and women mingle freely without shame or guilt, a contrast to the repressive Catholic upbringing the girls have. But this learning also parallels her meeting Jack Foley, a handsome blonde with blue eyes and a nice smile. She's quite taken when he asks her out to a dance, only to be gradually disillusioned when he doesn't as time goes on. When he finally does ask her, she tells him that she doesn't like being messed about, but further that despite being a rhinoceros, a reference to her perceived bigness, she has a thin skin. She is heartened that he feels comfortable talking to her honestly. He sees that she's all there, more grounded, sure of herself. In contrast, Jack wants to play rugby but is going for the medical program because of his father's wishes and despite the fact that he faints at the sight of blood. Through her interactions, she learns that she is capable of being loved and to love, but she never goes all the way. Jack indeed is a preferable pick from the oily Sean Walsh, an employee of Mr. Hogan's shop who aspires to be a partner, but also wants to marry Benny. It's further his dream to run the shop when Mr. Hogan retires. However, Benny is quite turned off by Sean, much to her parents' disappointment. This learning at school is making her self-aware, and she's made up her mind who she wants to marry, should she do so. What's the point of learning all that knowledge, only to go back to her little village and be a good little wife, something also explored in the later Mona Lisa Smile.
The divide between Protestants and Catholics is seen here in the form of Simon Westward, a member of the landowning family who wants to marry the right girl. That is what Nan is looking for, a real man, seeing her peers as just boys, as tryouts. Things don't go the way she plans, leading her to disrupt Benny and Jack.
It's easy to see why Minnie Driver became a star. As the shy, hopeful, intelligent, and sensitive Benny, she's a fresh face. And she's unique with that slightly wide face of hers, She is mostly seen without much makeup, and she still looks wonderful, and with that accent and beaming countenance, totally believable as a daughter of the Emerald Isle. I'd definitely go for someone like her. Geraldine O'Rawe lends strong support as Eve, who turns out to be more loyal and true to Benny. Chris O'Donnell also gets a thumbs up as Jack, a likeable enough person, less sure of himself, well-meaning, but with a few failings.
As in all the other films I've seen him in, Alan Cumming (Sean) is another slimy, lizard-like, fawning toadie (Titus, Spiceworld, Eyes Wide Shut). He is a bit pathetic with his greasy black hair and sickly smile, but he's a character to be reviled as time goes on.
With a nice closing song, "You're The One," sung by Maire Brennan and Shane McGowan, Circle Of Friends is a film that doesn't go for the predictable drama of most romance movies. No, this is a movie that's all there. "
An Endearing Performance By Minnie Driver
Reviewer | 06/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An endearing, Oscar worthy performance by Minnie Driver highlights "Circle of Friends," a poignant story of friendship, love and loyalty, set in 1957 Ireland, directed by Pat O'Connor. Driver stars as Bernadette "Benny" Hogan, a sensitive, somewhat self-conscious young lady (she sees herself as plain and over-weight), about to enter the University of Dublin, along with her two, life-long friends, Eve (Geraldine O'Rawe), and Nan (Saffron Burrows). At school she meets rugby star and med student Jack Foley (Chris O'Donnell), and falls in love with him; and, once he gets to know her, (and after a somewhat tenuous beginning), Jack realizes that he loves Benny, as well. Conflict intervenes upon their romance, however, and complications ensue when circumstances force them into a prolonged separation. Benny's home is a bus ride away from Dublin, and it becomes necessary for her to stay for awhile and help with the family store. Ultimately, it leads to an incident involving Jack and Nan, when Jack becomes unwittingly drawn into a particularly sensitive and unpleasant situation which has recently arisen between Nan and her wealthy suitor, Simon Westward (Colin Firth). Driver is the real story here, though, as she gives an incredibly touching performance that so adeptly conveys Benny's sensitivities; she is Benny from the inside out, wearing her heart on her sleeve and so vulnerable to the pain that life can seemingly inflict at will. She is so winsome, and accessible, that it enables you to share her joy and feel her pain; all due to Driver's incredible ability to make such an absolute emotional connection between her Benny and the audience. And having the capacity to evoke such empathy underscores what a truly gifted actress Driver is. As Jack, Chris O'Donnell gives one of his finest performances to date, as well. He manages to delve beneath the surface to tap Jack's indecisiveness, his self-confidence tinged with doubt, while fleshing out the moral aptitude which defines him, and it's reassuring to know that there's so much more to him than being the star jock of the rugby team, because Benny deserves more than that. The audience's identification with Benny is so strong that her endeavors must be rewarded with a man worthy of her affection; for Jack to be any less than he is would be unacceptable and unsatisfying. The wonderful supporting cast includes Alan Cumming (Sean), Mick Lally (Dan Hogan), Ciaran Hinds (Professor Flynn), John Kavanagh (Brian Mahon) and Britta Smith (Mrs. Hogan). Superbly acted and well directed, "Circle of Friends" is a captivating, memorable film, visually attractive and complimented by an engaging soundtrack of lilting, Irish melodies, and Benny is a young woman you'll take into your heart and keep there; for she is unforgettable. This is one of those rare films that penetrates the soul and takes a real look at the human condition, and how fragile at times it can be. It will make you think; but above all, it will make you feel."
Elements of Comedy and Sorrow
' Groovin' guy | 05/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a movie that touches your heart.
Lush and green (of course) is the rich background of this Irish film, the girls are all dolls and it's an enriching film to watch.
Once you've watched it , you can't forget it as it starts with childhood and ends at the brim of adulthood, giving us, the viewers something we can all recognize,which is friendship."
Nice movie; No one is saving the world.
Larry Scantlebury | Ypsilanti, MI United States | 02/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That's basically it. It's a nice movie about learning how to grow up. I have a feeling that all over the world and all over the times people struggle at this age, at this time of their lives and with the same results. Not to give a Nietzsche quote but we learn from our mistakes and eventually the pain, the sting and the tears, end. And we are perhaps only imperceptibly, a little stronger. Love and broken hearts. One of the great, great plots. Maybe the greatest.
O'Donnell is a lot of fun. I haven't seen him lately but I am sure he will pop up; Minnie Driver is great and conveys a sense of innocence, quiet passion and a joie vivre.
The real star is Ireland. They say "post-war Ireland" but Ireland wasn't in the war. It was neutral. Still, the war raped Europe and Ireland suffered with the rest. A beautiful country; a nice story. 4 stars. Larry Scantlebury"
What a treasure!
BeachReader | Delaware | 08/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this lovely little gem for the second time. I had forgotten what a truly charming and well-done movie it is. It was so interesting to watch Chris O'Donnell and Minnie Driver in their early years......from their performances, I can see why they are such stars today. They are wonderful actors.Driver's character, Benny, sees herself as unattractive and dumpy. She plays the role to perfection, with a touching sensitivity. O'Donnell plays Jack, a star rugby player with a big heart and a conscience, but a young man who is somewhat indecisive and not as confident as he appears to be.The characters are all portrayed with great honesty, humor, and grace while they learn lessons about friendship, loyalty, love, and life.Although sweet and endearing, this movie is never sappy and the characters never ask us to feel sorry for them.The cinematography was beautiful and the lilting Irish music was a wonderful compliment to the scenery of this gorgeous country.A thought-provoking film with a message."