By Dave B.
The premise of Circle (currently on Netflix) is simple: a group of 50 people is abducted and trapped in a room where they have to choose one person to die every two minutes. With a runtime of less than 90 minutes, I expected Circle to be terrible. It wasn’t. Flawed in some fairly glaring ways, yes. But not terrible.
The best thing about Circle is that it does an excellent job of cultivating suspense. The 80+ minutes that I spent watching it flew by. I genuinely wanted to know why this was all happening and what would happen next. It won’t win any awards for acting or writing, but the directors, Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione, clearly have a good grasp on how to keep a viewer’s attention. I also liked that some of the events that occurred were genuinely messed up. As in the, “Wow, did that just happen? I wasn’t expecting that”, type of messed up. In short, it’s fun. I also really enjoyed the premise. Although I’m certain that I wouldn’t have survived for long in that scenario, it was interesting to see it play out in a fairly plausible way.
My biggest problem with Circle is that it’s written so that most of the characters are simply stereotypes. I understand that Hann and Miscione were making social commentary. That’s fine. I also understand that there are limitations imposed on character development by the fact that someone dies every two minutes. But audiences aren’t stupid and it’s alright to give characters a bit of complexity and common sense. Even in a stressful situation, it’s unlikely that most bigots are going to flagrantly espouse their bigotry for a room of potential executioners to see and judge. It doesn’t make any sense and detracts from an otherwise interesting scenario.
Without giving spoilers, it’s difficult to provide more detail about Circle, but overall I liked it. It’s runtime was short enough that it’s obvious deficiencies were tolerable. With it’s novel premise and good execution, I recommend Circle, especially if you don’t have a lot of time, but feel like watching something a bit out of your standard viewing wheelhouse.