The Circle

Director: Yuri Zeltser

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Circle Jay (Scott Cohen) is holed up in a dive hotel. We don't yet know who he is, but appears to be a gangster; in fact he's a hired killer. The Circle (2005) is beginning.

The cinematography is flat but grows on you as stylistic. Shadows shift to harsh light; colors are slightly off, making it all seem a world apart.

The lack of cuts between scenes is not quite revolutionary -- Hitchcock did it best in Rope (1948) -- but it is certainly impressive. Even flashbacks to completely different sets are achieved without observable edits or cuts. It's worth watching the film a second time just to study this achievement. On one viewing, though, the characters are too captivatingly bizarre to permit viewer focus on anything but them.

Angela Bettis as Joy pounds on the door, demanding a glass of water & general attention. She's the wife of the man Jay is hired to kill. She knew who he was when she knocked on the door, though it takes him a while to figure out there's more to her than mere craziness.

The CircleThe dialogue-driven story that develops between them is not always credible, but extremely well written so that the least believable exchanges play into the film's surrealist edge. It's partly like a well done play, but does film a lot better than plays usually do.

She's pregnant & near term, except it's a pillow, & she really is bug-ass crazy. Bettis was great as psycho killer sweetie-pie May Dove Cassidy in May (2002), but she's a genius as Joy. Scott Cohen as the killer is likewise great; David Proval as the dangerous "Dad" is great. Once you're submerged in the story, everything's awesomely great.

The journey to Dad's creepy sex club is like a trip into Hell, with Mom (Jill Jacobson) the insanely jealous guiding spirit. In this grim purgatory Joy must confront the demonic yet pathetic king of gangsters, appeal to his desire to be every criminal's daddy, & convince him to spare her husband's life.

Along the way she'll discover her husband is truly not worth the effort, while she has doomed the hired assassin whose apparent greater humanity does him in.

It's headed for an ending that indeed brings the story full "circle" & explains why all this has seemed like purgatory. It is shocking & hip without straining too awfully much, a little too clever perhaps, but in the main crazily effective & horrifically satisfying. And how rare is it to find a film that isn't exactly like a whole slug of other films.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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