With a nearly 2-hour runtime, it takes a while for the supernatural drama Circle, from writer-director Charles Davis, to engross its audience into its machinations. Katka (Leslie Dame) is helping out with her granddaughter, Eleanor, while her daughter’s husband is away for a week. A cardiologist, the grandma, orders some tests for her beloved toddler. The news is not good. Making matters worse is that she did this without Rebecca, her daughter, about this.
Of course, Eleanor’s mom is angry and tells Katka to leave the house for a bit so both of them can cool down. Katka wanders about New York City, making her way to Central Park. And as much as the movie tries, this first 15 or so minutes is very dull. Davis attempts to write Rebecca and Katka with a complicated backstory, as Katka was not the most attentive mother. While this comes into play later on, specifics are never cited. How did Katka show to Rebecca that she was a third or fourth, or even lower priority? Was she just working all the time, or did she also control every aspect of her daughter’s life? Due to this strained relationship, how often does Katka visit to see both Rebecca and Eleanor? Circle does not get into any of that backstory enough for the throughline to be genuinely affecting.
“…Katka, with Mr. Peter’s help, must save her granddaughter from both the designs of this witch and a medical emergency.”
This does mean an angry monologue Katka gives to Rebecca late in the film falls flat on its face in the worst possible way. However, that moment, and much of the movie, still works thanks to dedicated performances and the strange about-face that happens approximately twenty minutes in.
As Katka is wandering Central Park, she discovers that a tree from her youth is still standing. This tree is special to her as it is where she made a dark pact to become a witch, along with a few other gifts. As she investigates, Katka meets the mysterious Mr. Peter (Luke Mindell), who seems to want to help in any way he can. Katka also runs across her old friend Stacy (Christina Perry), who looks just as she did all those years ago. She discovers that Stacy and Eleanor are friends, though Stacy’s intentions may not be as pure as they seem. Now, Katka, with Mr. Peter’s help, must save her granddaughter from both the designs of this witch and a medical emergency.
"…a supernatural lore unlike any other."