“Smaller And Smaller Circles”
Needs To Stay in the Cinemas
By Tim Henares
It always seems to be the case that the best films we have to offer in Philippine Cinema lately also tend to be the least viewed, which is a crying shame.
“Smaller and Smaller Circles,” based on the book of the same title, is a mystery involving a Philippine Serial Killer, no matter how preposterous that premise might seem. It follows the point of view of a forensic expert who also happens to be a priest, Father Saenz, as he walks in two different worlds: the world of law and justice, and the world of God, which, in this narrative, often come to a head.
That hardly anyone is even watching this masterpiece has to be corrected, lest we end up thinking that “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” with its all-too-brief theater run thanks to a lack of commercial interest, ends up getting lumped with, say, “Durugin Ang Droga.”
Without spoiling anything, here’s 8 reasons you have to catch this kickass film – and keep it afloat in the cinemas!
8. It’s a smart, lean crime thriller.
What “On The Job” brought to Philippine neo-noir sensibilities, “Smaller and Smaller Circles” manages to bring to Philippine mysteries as a whole. For the most part, we haven’t had too many great whodunits in our cinematic history, so having a very smart, engaging, and gripping one is definitely a feather in our cap.
7. A compelling premise.
What would you do if a serial killer is on the loose in the Philippines, and not only are you one of the few people who can track him down, you also happen to be a Jesuit priest? The fact that Father Saenz is a priest is integral to the film’s narrative, and keeps in line with themes that go far beyond the film itself. It’s meta AF.
6. It confronts the clash between justice and faith head-on.
In light of “Spotlight,” Hollywood has certainly made it imperative to take erring clergy to task when it comes to abusing young children. The Philippines, as thoroughly Catholic as it is, certainly shies away from these discussions, but this film does not. Without indicting God Himself, the film still manages to tackle these sensitive topics with grace and nuance.
5. It puts all institutions on blast, period.
Not only did the religious get a sendup from this film, but so did the government. Overall, it manages to do this without coming across as preachy or sanctimonious, because its best characters are still part of these institutions, thus giving us hope that good people can achieve good things despite everything.
4. Bordering on procedural.
The way they searched for their serial killer bordered on procedural, and in a good way. They followed their methodologies to their logical conclusions, and it was not in any way disappointing where they ended up.
3. A fascinating slice of ‘90s Pinoy life.
The film, set in 1997, tells a story that would remarkably be different if set in the present day. From the little details, such as a distinct lack of smartphones for investigative work and even the downright ancient internet presented in the form of instant messengers, you can tell that the setting is a character in itself, breathing life into the entire narrative in a way only it can.
2. Gladys Reyes: the cameo of awesome.
Gladys Reyes plays a cameo in this film, but a very significant one. In what little screen time she has, she certainly makes the most of it.
1. Where is God in the middle of this carnage?
The answer to that question lies in how you understand the movie, and what you personally believe. And therein lies the beauty of this film: its ability to make people question themselves, and re-examine the things they hold dear without accosting them or judging them for said personal stances.
What did you think of the movie? Tell us your thoughts below!