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'Circle Of Friends' is set in 1950's Ireland. The movie focuses on Benny Hogan and her best friend, Eve Malone. The story centers around Benny and Eve as they enter student life at University College, Dublin. Here Benny and Eve reunite with their childhood friend, the ice-cool Nan Mahon, the 'college belle'. They also encounter the handsome and charming Jack Foley, whom Benny quickly falls for. Written by
Perhaps not having read Maeve Binchy's book, in which this film is based, and never seeing the film when it was released, helped this viewer to enjoy it, perhaps more than most people that saw it in its commercial debut. Pat O'Connor and his adapter, Andrew Davies, give us a portrait about the friendship of three young girls in the story, as they go from childhood to womanhood in the Ireland of some time ago.
We meet the three friends as the film opens. There are Benny, Eve and Nan, who are inseparable. They grow up and their relationship continues right through adulthood. The three friends go to university and we see them attending Professor Flynn's class, which seems to be the girls' favorite teacher.
Nan, the prettiest of the three has no prospects of marrying into money. She decides to go after Simon Westwood, a wrong choice that turns out even worse when she discovers he couldn't care less for her. He just wants to marry money and she doesn't have it. Eva, the orphan girl brought up by nuns, has no prospects either, but she has a cottage in the country that Nan finds convenient for exploring her sexuality with Simon.
The best adjusted of the three friends is plain Benny, who seems destined to marry her father's clerk, the reptilian Sean. She has her eyes set on Jack Foley, the hunky jock. Jack in turn likes her, but things intervene between them.
Minnie Driver, is a marvelous presence in the film. She makes the plain Benny come alive. Saffron Burrows is perfect as the vain and beautiful Nan. Geraldine O'Rawe plays Eve. Chris O'Donnell is Jack Foley, who makes a good impression. Alan Cumming, Colin Firth and Ciaran Hinds are perfect in their supporting roles.
"Circle of Friends", while not breaking any ground, is still a good movie to watch because Pat O'Connor's direction and the ensemble acting cast.
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