Directed Mark Garvey
Starring Simon Cleary, Alice Phillipson, Jasmine Knight, Edd Gibson, Tom Gillson, Paul Woodcock
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Loaded with emotional depth and filmmaking prowess, filmmaker Mark Garvey's indie feature The Same Circles is a tumultuous story about loss, grief and revenge in the modern world. With its central character descending into a pit of obsession, this becomes a cautionary tale of action and consequences, and how easy it can be to lose one's morality in the face of utter tragedy.
Rory (Simon Cleary) is introduced to the audience at the beginning of the story as a timid character, softly spoken and doesn't know how to change a flat tire (the marking of the anti-alpha-male). During a weekend break with his partner Saff (Alice Phillipson) they have an ugly run-in with a group of people out on a stag-do. The results of this violent and regrettable altercation then shape the direction which Rory life takes and his quest for justice.
Revenge fantasies often fall into the trap of focusing on the euphoria one could find in taking violent retribution on someone who has wronged you. Cleary and Garvey as co-writers, to their credit, sidestep this and spend more time in their movie looking at how the central character struggles with the changes taking place. As he loses his grip on his former self, physical and psychological struggles take place that reflect the metamorphosis that is happening. Where the writing falls down sadly is the dialogue.
Thriller tropes and cliches are ladled into certain scenes that the actors simply cannot handle, and my eyes were rolling at numerous points during the film when Cleary attempted to express the smorgasbord of emotions his character was supposed to be experiencing. Some of the physical blocking was also laughable. A particular scene where Rory confronts one of the suspects on a country lane is painfully amateurish. Cleary's pacing around and line delivery was so uneven it dropped any tension that had been built up previously, and the theatrical fisticuffs were cringeworthy.
Where the performances are stronger are when there is no one speaking. A film with a dark story like this could easily have opted for minimal dialogue, and Cleary is at his best when he is raging alone in his car or pounding the streets looking for clues...although how much coffee-to-go can one bloke drink?! As it is, Cleary is not a strong enough lead for a film with such a demanding central role.
All that being said, The Same Circles contains some absolutely stunning cinematography from Garvey. His use of a wonderful tracking shot across the beach where mud spurts up and splashes the lens was magnificent, as were the scenes of Rory looking out across empty estuaries at dusk (why he thought he would find anyone in that location at that time of night is beyond me though). The use of lens flare is also nicely done, capturing the fracturing nature of Rory's personality and his journey which is being blurred by his rage.
There was a very interesting theme that did arise during the film which I think, with a stronger cast and better script, could have proved compelling. This idea that in the digital age we can become judge, jury and executioner because we feel we have the means to find out everything at our fingertips is a good one. And then the effect this has on us as people is a wonderful angle to explore. As far as The Same Circles goes, the judgement is nothing to get excited about.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for The Same Circles below...