Circle of Friends

In this funny and touching fable of three colleens growing up near Dublin circa 1957, Minnie Driver is irresistible as Benny, the "big, soft girl" who thinks she's a wallflower. Saffron Burrows is the sophisticated Nan, and Geraldine O'Rawe is the convent-raised Eve. O'Rawe is the only Irish rose in the bunch; the others are Brits. American Chris O'Donnell took dialect lessons to play the Irish rugby star who brings out the woman in Benny. OK, the accents falter, but director Pat O'Connor ("Cal") is pitch perfect at showing how the forces of church, state and sex come between friends and lovers in this bittersweet romance. Driver's tough core of honesty and wit is bewitching. So's the movie.

From The Archives Issue 704: March 23, 1995