The setup of In Circles is promising – crop circles are an undeniably intriguing phenomena, and the film sets up a slew of interesting characters bringing their own preconceptions out to the West Country setting. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of those involved, In Circles falls short of its own potential.
The lacklustre script lets the film down, and the cast deserve a lot of credit for getting through the overwritten dialogue with straight faces. Every twist and turn is telegraphed from miles away, and themes are spelt out just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Romantic subplots are necessary to get from A to B, but they don’t quite work, and the film loses itself in the weeds – or more accurately, the corn.
This is clearly a passion project for debut feature directors Jonnie Hurn and Ian Manson – and while it would be difficult to make a film about crop circles without any elements of extraterrestrial trutherism, this film would benefit from a narrower focus. In Circles is at its best when it keeps its feet firmly on the ground.
While Hurn and Manson do their best with a limited budget, some artistic choices don’t help matters. A blurry opening foray of landscape shots look like they’ve been run through Instagram filters, and pink-hued night sequences are headache-inducingly hard to follow. However, later timelapses wisely let the pastoral setting speak for itself, and the crop circles themselves are certainly impressive.
During the third act, it seems like In Circles might actually pull itself together – but some final twists sacrifice a promising small-time tale in favour of grander mysticism. In Circles goes for complexity but loses itself in its own intricacy – creating a bigger picture that looks more messy than magical.
CAST: James Fisher, Jonnie Hurn, Chloe Farnworth, Cassandra Tomaz
DIRECTORS: Jonnie Hurn, Ian Manson
WRITERS: Jonnie Hurn, Ian Manson
SYNOPSIS: The divisive and clandestine world of crop circles comes under threat when an ambitious TV journalist, investigating their creation, plans to expose the truth.