“Circles” is a movie from the Philippines that deals with the societal levels of the country. Chris (Archie de Calma) is aboard the bus when a robbery occurs and he finds himself at knifepoint. His life passes before his eyes and he begins t wonder how he could have prevented this from happening. As he attempts to answer this question, we are witness to his life in the days that led up to this occurrence. What we see is a probe into all levels of Filipino life and an attempt to explain how things come to be what they are. This is a movie unlike Chris Pablo has ever made before. His exploration of society this time is deep and thorough. Yet as deep as the movie is, it is not as satisfying as his two other features, “Bathhouse” and “Doubt”.
The park is the place in the Philippines where lives and loves meet and intersect. It is from the park that we get to know the characters and this is the films strong point—the characterizations that the director presents. It is through the characters that we see society and it I through the characters that everything happens. As they meet, share their lives and become real to us, we get insight into the way the Philippine society lives and interacts. It is almost as Chris Pablo is playing G-d and having his characters act so as to show us the structure of life that Filipinos live.
The people we meet in the park come form all levels of society and all walks of life. There are fruit vendors, market traders, student protestors and rent boys. That the movie was made on a shoestring budget is obvious and the sound could be a lot better but to be privy to a society that we know nothing about is what this movie provides us. The boys are cute but to see young men who are more concerned about their next sexual escapade and not about much else is disheartening to put it mildly.
There is some graphic sexuality and frontal nudity in the film but it is absolutely necessary to move the plot along. “Circles” is not the best of the new films to come along but it has something to say and deserves to be seen. Have a look. I don’t think you will be sorry.