The Circle (2000)
"Dayereh" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  8 September 2000 (Italy)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 4,320 users   Metascore: 85/100
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Various women struggle to function in the oppressively sexist society of contemporary Iran.



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Complete credited cast:
Nargess Mamizadeh ...
Maryiam Palvin Almani ...
Arezou (as Maryam Parvin Almani)
Mojgan Faramarzi ...
Mojgan - Prostitute
Elham Saboktakin ...
Elham - Nurse
Monir Arab ...
Monir - Ticket Seller
Maedeh Tahmasebi ...
Maedeh (as Maedeh Tahmasbi)
Maryam Shayegan ...
Khadijeh Moradi
Negar Ghadyani
Solmaz Panahi ...
Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy ...
Pari (as Fereshteh Sadr Orafai)
Fatemeh Naghavi ...
Ataollah Moghadas ...
Abbas Alizadeh ...
Father of Pari


In a hospital waiting room a woman learns her daughter, Solmaz Gholami, has just given birth. The ultrasound test had prepared the family for a boy. The baby, it turns out, is a girl. The joy the mother anticipated turns to terror for she knows her son-in-law's family will abandon her daughter. The old woman flees as the in-laws arrive. On the crowded streets of Tehran - a place where women are not permitted to stay out on their own or smoke in public - two women are also on the run. Arezou and Nargess have just been granted temporary leave from prison but they have no plans to return. They manage to scrounge together enough money for the bus trip to Nargess' hometown, but she lacks proper identification, and the police are searching everyone at the station. Meanwhile, their friend Pari has just escaped from prison in order to have an abortion. Threatened with death by her brothers, she flees from her father's house and meets with a former inmate, Elham, who is now married to a doctor... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

8 September 2000 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

El círculo  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$10,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$22,360 (USA) (13 April 2001)


$673,780 (USA) (22 March 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of Circle of Desire (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Made interesting and engaging by the anger at the system within each story – but that focus takes away from the narrative
23 May 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I have seen several Iranian films in the past few weeks thanks to a short season of the films screened in the UK by Channel 4 – a channel that can rise above the level of reality television when it puts its mind to it. Having seen them in a compact space of time, I had quickly gotten it in my head that many of those screened had come to international attention and various degrees of acclaim because they were "issue" films that looked at some aspect of Iranian life with at least a semi-critical eye. However none of them came close to the sort of anger with the system that was evident throughout this film.

The plot sees several stories that weave around one another to produce a film that looks at several women, all of whom are suffering in some way or other due to the general treatment of women in Iran. As a dramatic device it doesn't totally work because too little time is spent with each character to really get to know them or get into their stories and situations, but this struck me as being the film's second aim – with the first quite clearly being the injustice with which women are treated. As such, the narrative never really engaged me in terms of the people in the story, but the general picture painted was interesting enough to hold my attention and make me care for the characters generally, even if I would struggle to put names to faces.

The actresses are all pretty good and most come off pretty natural and convincing, with only the odd moment here and there not really working. They all strike a rather tragic note with each of them trying to make out the best they can in life but really oppressed in so many ways – whether it is small things like not easily moving in the streets by themselves or being rejected by their families to save honour. The direction is good, with different styles used for some of the characters – but done in a subtle way to the point where I didn't notice until somebody pointed it out to me.

Overall this is a good film but not a brilliant one mainly because the narrative comes secondary to the criticism of the system. However it is worth seeing mainly because, without really ranting, it holds a lot of anger at the status of Iranian women and their treatment and the injustice within the system – it may not be balanced but it is interesting and engaging.

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