Overview: Fifty individuals are confined to one room and are eliminated by the hands of their fellow prisoners. Votiv Films; 2015; Not Rated; 87 minutes.
Round and Round: At the center is a dome. Every two minutes, an electric charge ignites from the dome and zaps its victim into annihilation. The participants are arranged in this dome of death in two circles. The floor is reminiscent of a roulette wheel and the people are the numbers. There is nowhere to go. The perimeter is completely obscured by darkness. There is nothing else to see, but death and one another. The entire film takes places within this room. The amount of calibration and detail, for ensuring continuity, is outstanding. The circular arrangement is dizzying and creates a tedious process in aligning one camera angle transition into another.
Those Who Deserve to Die: After figuring out each person can vote for a person’s death, panic, fear, and aggression are multiplied. The non-voluntary participants are diverse: a mix of nationalities, wide-spread in age, different degrees of economic background, atheists, devout followers of God, and other characteristics, arranged as if to make it possible to find a member we can associate with. One thing is clear: when the two minutes are up, someone will die. Each death opens up a conversation. We see each person’s unfiltered logic on who should be next. The game becomes an unveiling of ethical and moral standings, for both the people on the screen and those watching. Rationality begins in its most pure form and transforms into an ugly beast. Directors Aaron Haan and Mario Miscione tap into the corners of our consciousness that we rarely bring to the surface and in a rapid-fire procession force us to question ourselves.
Final Thoughts: Circle made its world premiere on May 28th at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Uptown Cinema Seattle, Washington. Every seat was occupied. Three-quarters through the movie and immediately following a pivotal moment, the audio changed. The words and lips did not match. A delay and an echo altered perceptions and became disorienting. Bounding down the steps in the near-dark, SIFF Film Programmer, Brad Wilke, apologetically announced technical malfunctions. Murmurs all around indicated my neighbors acknowledged the unbalanced audio as an artistic twist, like me, not a tech glitch. During this slight bump in the evening, there was only one casualty who vacated the premises. Circle held onto its viewers and the viewers were not going to let go. I know how I will vote, how will you?