THE CIRCLE [Edinburgh Film Festival]

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

When six high school girls begin to develop magical powers, it’s only the beginning of the mystical world they are about to be plunged into. Forces of darkness are gathering in their quiet little mountain town, and the girls’ emerging powers may be all that there is to stand against it.

The current trend of adapting of young adult novel series into films is now spreading internationally. The Circle is the first of the Engelsfors trilogy by Swedish authors Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, introducing readers to a world of witches, demons and the mysterious Council.

Its base ingredients are all very familiar. The girls develop powers like telekinesis, invisibility, firestarting, mind control and the ability to read arcane runes, all of which ultimately play a part as the story develops. Prophetic rumblings of dubious provenance use the clichéd phrase Chosen One without a hint of irony, along with a typically nebulous warning of hidden dangers and battles to come.

With the girls being highly diverse in both personality and social demographic, the story appeals to a wide audience, presenting them as dealing with issues that many teenagers face such as loneliness, isolation, bullying, unrequited crushes and unstable home lives, only with the added pressure of an encroaching apocalypse to contend with. Several of the film’s sextet of stars are giving their acting debut, and despite their inexperience each of them perfectly embodies her character. Judging by the varying levels of insight we into each girl’s home life, it’s clear how much empathy we are expected to have for each of them, effectively having our opinions of their character dictated to us, while also skipping over some murky areas such as the questionable ethics of mind control.

The crumbling ghost town after which the trilogy is titled is a perfect setting for a confrontation between good and evil, the settlement being isolated enough that the rest of the world could remain oblivious to the magical forces building within the creepy Silent Hill fog enveloping the eerie settlement. Like many YA adaptations, The Circle’s core audience will be existing fans of the books or anyone else who eats up similar works. Everyone else will likely find its nearly two and a half hour running time a bit of a slog.

THE CIRCLE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: LEVAN AKIN / SCREENPLAY: LEVAN AKIN, SARA BERGMARK ELFGREN / STARRING: IRMA VON PLATEN, MIRANDA FRYDMAN, HELENA ENGSTROM, LEONA AXELSEN, HANNA ASP, JOSEFIN ASPLUND, RUTH VEGA FERNANDEZ / RELEASE: TBC

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

Actual Rating:


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