Based on the novel by popular writer Maeve Binchy, CIRCLE OF FRIENDS is a well-told story of three young women as they emerge into adulthood and encounter romance and sexuality in Ireland in the mid-1950s. Eve, Nan and Benny grew up together in a rural town outside of Dublin in strong Catholic households: Nan and Benny with their parents; and, the orphan Eve in the local convent. The story revolves around the charming Benny, played skillfully by Minnie Driver. Her attendance at the university is as much an attempt to free herself from the unwanted attention of her father’s apprentice, who hopes to marry her and thereby secure his future in the men’s clothing business, as it is a quest for an education.
Set against a breathtaking landscape, CIRCLE OF FRIENDS is a well-told, wonderfully-acted story that, regrettably, comes to a conclusion that belittles the importance of sex within marriage and the beauty that lies therein. Also, the spiritual side of their world is presented as nothing deeper than ritual and heritage, and they have no real reason to embrace it as their own. With much of the movie dealing almost exclusively with the women’s sexuality and such subplots as seduction, abortion and attempted rape, many parents may feel uncomfortable about their children under seventeen-years-of-age viewing this film.
(Ro, NA, LL, SS, NN, A, M) Romanticism combined with relativism -- religious beliefs & marriage relationships belittled amid clash of sensual desires of college students against Catholic church & parents; 10 profanities, 8 vulgarities; attempted rape, fornication & loss of virginity, condoms discussed, & references to masturbation; brief, partial female nudity; alcohol abuse; and, cigarette smoking, glimpse of corpse in medical class, recurrent theft by store clerk, & abortion considered.