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Circle of Friends

3.9 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Three girlhood friends now at college share first loves, first kisses and first betrayals. At the center of it all is the best-looking boy on campus. Can a self-conscious dreamer hook the biggest fish in the pond? ' 'A marvelous romantic comedy' ' (Siskel & Ebert)

Amazon.com

A polished gem from 1995, this disarmingly sweet and dramatically insightful love story provided a charming showcase for Chris O'Donnell and, especially, then-newcomer Minnie Driver, whose performance drew critical raves and boosted her career to Hollywood. Smoothly adapted from the novel by Maeve Binchy and set in Ireland during the 1950s, the story focuses on Benny (Driver), a somewhat plump, plain-looking young woman attending university in Dublin who meets and quickly falls for Jack (O'Donnell), a handsome star of the university's rugby team who surprisingly reciprocates her glowing admiration. They're drawn together as soul mates, and their love is dramatically contrasted with a subplot involving Benny's more conventionally beautiful friend Nan (Saffron Burrows), whose appetite for older men leads her into a misguided and ultimately tragic relationship. A betrayal by Jack sets the stage for potential heartbreak, but director Pat O'Connor prevents these carefully drawn characters from resorting to sappy melodrama. They have lessons to learn about life and love, and Circle of Friends teaches those lessons with grace, humor, and heartfelt sincerity. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Chris O'Donnell, Minnie Driver, Geraldine O'Rawe, Saffron Burrows, Alan Cumming
  • Directors: Pat O'Connor
  • Writers: Andrew Davies, Maeve Binchy
  • Producers: Alex Winitsky, Arlene Sellers, Frank Price, Kenith Trodd, Rod Stoneman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 1998
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304884389
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,244 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Circle of Friends" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Set in post-World War II Ireland, namely the late 1940's and late 50's, Circle Of Friends tells of three girls, Eve, who was raised in a convent because her parents died, the stunning Nan Mahon, and the plain but pleasant and charming Benny Hogan, who's father is the local tailor. She narrates the film from time to time, and Minnie Driver's charming voice aids in what's quite a charming little movie about being sure of and true to oneself despite changes.

The three go to the college in Dublin, attend classes, and go back on the 10 past 6 bus to the village. In an anthropology class, she learns of an obscure tribe and their culture, one of which is that men and women mingle freely without shame or guilt, a contrast to the repressive Catholic upbringing the girls have. But this learning also parallels her meeting Jack Foley, a handsome blonde with blue eyes and a nice smile. She's quite taken when he asks her out to a dance, only to be gradually disillusioned when he doesn't as time goes on. When he finally does ask her, she tells him that she doesn't like being messed about, but further that despite being a rhinoceros, a reference to her perceived bigness, she has a thin skin. She is heartened that he feels comfortable talking to her honestly. He sees that she's all there, more grounded, sure of herself. In contrast, Jack wants to play rugby but is going for the medical program because of his father's wishes and despite the fact that he faints at the sight of blood. Through her interactions, she learns that she is capable of being loved and to love, but she never goes all the way. Jack indeed is a preferable pick from the oily Sean Walsh, an employee of Mr. Hogan's shop who aspires to be a partner, but also wants to marry Benny. It's further his dream to run the shop when Mr.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
An endearing, Oscar worthy performance by Minnie Driver highlights "Circle of Friends," a poignant story of friendship, love and loyalty, set in 1957 Ireland, directed by Pat O'Connor. Driver stars as Bernadette "Benny" Hogan, a sensitive, somewhat self-conscious young lady (she sees herself as plain and over-weight), about to enter the University of Dublin, along with her two, life-long friends, Eve (Geraldine O'Rawe), and Nan (Saffron Burrows). At school she meets rugby star and med student Jack Foley (Chris O'Donnell), and falls in love with him; and, once he gets to know her, (and after a somewhat tenuous beginning), Jack realizes that he loves Benny, as well. Conflict intervenes upon their romance, however, and complications ensue when circumstances force them into a prolonged separation. Benny's home is a bus ride away from Dublin, and it becomes necessary for her to stay for awhile and help with the family store. Ultimately, it leads to an incident involving Jack and Nan, when Jack becomes unwittingly drawn into a particularly sensitive and unpleasant situation which has recently arisen between Nan and her wealthy suitor, Simon Westward (Colin Firth). Driver is the real story here, though, as she gives an incredibly touching performance that so adeptly conveys Benny's sensitivities; she is Benny from the inside out, wearing her heart on her sleeve and so vulnerable to the pain that life can seemingly inflict at will. She is so winsome, and accessible, that it enables you to share her joy and feel her pain; all due to Driver's incredible ability to make such an absolute emotional connection between her Benny and the audience. And having the capacity to evoke such empathy underscores what a truly gifted actress Driver is.Read more ›
Comment 32 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I just watched this lovely little gem for the second time. I had forgotten what a truly charming and well-done movie it is. It was so interesting to watch Chris O'Donnell and Minnie Driver in their early years......from their performances, I can see why they are such stars today. They are wonderful actors.
Driver's character, Benny, sees herself as unattractive and dumpy. She plays the role to perfection, with a touching sensitivity. O'Donnell plays Jack, a star rugby player with a big heart and a conscience, but a young man who is somewhat indecisive and not as confident as he appears to be.
The characters are all portrayed with great honesty, humor, and grace while they learn lessons about friendship, loyalty, love, and life.
Although sweet and endearing, this movie is never sappy and the characters never ask us to feel sorry for them.
The cinematography was beautiful and the lilting Irish music was a wonderful compliment to the scenery of this gorgeous country.
A thought-provoking film with a message.
2 Comments 18 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
That's basically it. It's a nice movie about learning how to grow up. I have a feeling that all over the world and all over the times people struggle at this age, at this time of their lives and with the same results. Not to give a Nietzsche quote but we learn from our mistakes and eventually the pain, the sting and the tears, end. And we are perhaps only imperceptibly, a little stronger. Love and broken hearts. One of the great, great plots. Maybe the greatest.

O'Donnell is a lot of fun. I haven't seen him lately but I am sure he will pop up; Minnie Driver is great and conveys a sense of innocence, quiet passion and a joie vivre.

The real star is Ireland. They say "post-war Ireland" but Ireland wasn't in the war. It was neutral. Still, the war raped Europe and Ireland suffered with the rest. A beautiful country; a nice story. 4 stars. Larry Scantlebury
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