Circle Of Friends
PG-13
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -2

Set in a small Irish town, CIRCLE OF FRIENDS chronicles the story of three childhood friends beginning in 1949 as the girls, Benny, Eve, and Nan, (Minnie Driver, Geraldine O'Rawe and Saffron Burrows, respectively) receive their First Communion. By 1957, Nan has long since moved away and Benny and Eve prepare to attend college at the University of Dublin. In Dublin, the girls are unexpectedly reunited with Nan. Benny almost immediately falls in love with university rugby star, Jack Foley (Chris O'Donnell). Back home, however, Benny's parents want her to marry Sean (Alan Cumming), so there will be an heir to the family business. Benny is torn between committing the "mortal sin" of sleeping with Jack or remaining pure. Nan, however, despises her Catholic upbringing, and loses her virginity to the town Protestant. But when she becomes pregnant, social boundaries prevent their marriage. In desperation, Nan must figure out a way to "legitimize" her pregnancy.

Although Jack and Benny's love story is quite endearing, the film's sexual overtones and Catholic-bashing are tiring. Mixed messages abound in CIRCLE OF FRIENDS. The film contains several explicit conversations about sex. Benny is shown being fondled by Sean in one scene and by Jack in another during some fairly graphic petting interludes. And when she wears a low cut dress to a ball, her constant "adjustments" border on the obscene. Sexual promiscuity is not without consequences, however. Nan balks at her lover's suggestion that she have an abortion because she is Catholic, but that didn't seem to bother her when she slept with the guy. Although there are many positive portrayals of the Catholic church in the beginning of the film, by the end it is viewed as the source of all that is repressive and superstitious. Guilt, shame and sexual restraint are old fashioned, although consequences must also be measured. Also offensive are the many regular profanities spouted by these young people. Once again, Hollywood perpetrates the myth that humans are incapable of controlling their sexual desires and the church's call for sexual purity is unrealistic.

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Distributor: Savoy Pictures Entertainment, 152 W. 57th St., 38th Flr, NY, NY 10019

Summary
Crude Language: Once - Moderate
Obscene Language: Once( s-word)
Profanity: Many (13) times - Regular (G, J, C)
Violence: Once - Moderate (woman falls into window and cuts arm)
Sexual Intercourse: Implied 4 times
Nudity: Few times (photo of nude women; obscured rear male nudity once); Near nudity (girls wear low-cut dresses)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Many times (fondling while clothed, heavy kissing scene, references to heavy petting, self-gratification and other sexual activities)
Drug Abuse: Few times (social drinking and cigarette smoking)
Other: Male cadaver shown briefly; girl refuses to have abortion; Catholicism criticized and demeaned.
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teenagers and Adults

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