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Film Review: The Circle

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★★★★☆

The Circle is a curious piece of cinema; a merging of documentary and drama, the type of thing you’d more likely find made for TV. Even so, this real-life story has been neglected by popular entertainment and many people have never come across the story, so it’s great its being given a platform.

In the UK, 2014 saw the first same-sex marriages take place. Although equality isn’t quite there (it is still illegal for C of E churches to host such weddings even if they wished to), it is a testament to how far we have come since the days of imprisonment and chemical castration. This film tells a story a little further from home – in Zurich, to be exact – and looks at the relationship between a quiet, intelligent young teacher and his male lover in the 1950s.

Intriguingly, Switzerland was a safer place to be gay than most in the mid-twentieth century. Gay people didn’t need to live in secret as much as they would have in, say, the UK or the US. In this free culture, a ‘Circle’ of gay people (largely intellectual types) was formed and from that was born a daring magazine.

One could accuse Stefan Haupt of being too sympathetic to his characters (would everyone have been so nice in real life?) but his enthusiasm for the subject and adept ways of bringing to life the intricacies and politics of the time are entertaining. Although not perfect, this is an involving and enlightening docudrama that shines a light on a fascinating true story.

The Circle (2013), directed by Stefan Haupt, is released in the UK by Matchbox Films, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: 




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