Circle Of Friends 1995
Director: Pat O’Conner
Cast: Minnie Driver, Chris O’Donnell, Colin Firth,
Saffron Burrows,  Alan Cumming
Novel By: Maeve Binchy

A small town in Ireland, the 1950’s.  Two young catholic girlfriends go off to Dublin College to study, finding there childhood friend Nan (Saffron Burrows) already there.  They meet two boys there, and after a party, where there is a little mix up; they embark on relationships with them.  Meanwhile Nan has a relationship with a rich landowner, Simon Westward (Colin Firth) from their hometown.
The Narrator, Benny (Minnie Driver) falls in  love with Jack (Chris O’Donnell) a squeamish reluctant medical student, and avid rugby player.  While Benny’s father is trying to arrange her union with Sean (Alan Cumming) his snide, slimy, assistant in the family shop.  Benny loudly makes her protestations to this union clear, as well as the fact that she is in love with Jack.  After which her father suddenly takes ill, just a bit!

Benny has to stay in town and look after her mother and the family shop, for the present giving College a miss.  She suspects Sean of fiddling her father’s books, seemingly to underhandedly force their union.  This meantime gives leeway for a little bit of selfish backstabbing and stupidity in Dublin.
The slimy Sean embarks on a little bit of aggressive seduction of Benny, which she beautifully scuttles.  Along the way proving her notions about him correct.

Billed as a romantic drama, unfortunately forgetting that there is a good deal of good comedy in there.  The trouble the girls have with the conflict between their strict catholic upbringing  and their new-found desire for the opposite sex is hilarious.  Even the joking that surrounds the priest’s statement that all carnal sin seems to be the fault of females.

Minnie Driver is wonderful as Benny, intelligent, traumatized, funny, caring, strong, straightforward, voluptuous and fascinating.  With Chris O’Donnell’s Jack as her almost perfect match, himself intelligent, caring, open, handsome, and mostly honest.

Alan Cumming is absolutely repulsive as the snide, greedy, slimy, underhanded, yeah OK, reptilian Sean.  Benny’s rebuttal of his amorous advance is funny, well deserved and long overdue.  I have a faint memory of him being not quite so creepy in Emma (1996).  But he does seem to be slithering around a lot trying to obtain the affections of uninterested females.  And what a great acting job he does of this too!

The cinematography is not quite as wild, beautiful and green as in that great Irish love story, The Quiet Man (1952) and Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell are not quite Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne.  But this is one of the few films I have seen Chris O’Donnell in (not counting Batman Forever of course!)  And he does a very good job.  Minnie Driver is as beautiful and entrancing as Maureen O’Hara is, and in every role I have seen her in she has performed admirably.  Hopefully in few years she will be given better and better roles.  And since Hollywood seems to be remaking every good film ever made, if they remake The Quiet Man, Minnie Driver would be the woman for a nice stick to tickle!  But as she fought back well here, I am sure she would give back just as much as she would get as a dragged through a hedge wife.

Review by Giovanni Pistachio, Giovanni can be contacted at: –

email:-  giovannip@pistachio-films.com
© Owned Giovanni Pistachio.



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