Our review of The circle, Sophie Chiarello’s documentary from February 13, 2023 to the cinema, which allows us to see the world through the eyes of children.
Merciless, attentive, discreet, the gaze of children is always focused on our lives as it is natural. Through the adults around them, the little ones learn about a complex and new world; like sponges they take and internalize ideas and behaviors, slowly filling a baggage that at their age is still practically empty. Some ideas will become fixed, others will be placed in bulk, ready to be pulled out at any moment, looked at, modified, understood and sometimes questioned.
It is this process that The circle tries to tell thanks to the careful and discreet gaze of the director Sophie Chiarellowho does something that turns out to be extraordinary in its small way: following an elementary class for five years, lowering its gaze to the height of a child to give us back a world different from the one we adults think we live in, a world filtered through childish eyes and which, precisely for this, it is devoid of a large number of superstructures applied by us.
The plot that doesn’t exist
As already mentioned The circle it is a very particular documentary: thanks to the brilliant idea of following a group of kids for five years during their elementary school journey, the director was able to avoid imposing limits on the narration. In a series of meetings held in class, the children, sitting in a circle, were able, naturally and with extreme spontaneity, to talk about many topics, letting their thoughts and emotions flow freely, without constraints or lines to follow.
What is love? Who are the migrants? What are the differences between males and females? What does it mean to become an adult? But above all, who is Santa Claus and how does he bring all those presents? Obviously in this review we will not anticipate any of their wonderful answers so that you can enjoy, like us, the amazement, the fun and the reflections, sometimes even bitter, that arise from what is ultimately a mirror that reflects the world also for how we are building it: full of contradictions, disparities and injustices, a world where children exercise their greatest power, a power that could one day save us, that of hope and imagination.
The circle, the director in Rome 2022: “The most difficult thing was finding the right distance”
An intelligent construction
The circle proceeds by moments, small spaces obtained from the school life of a class, week after week, year after year. In fact, it is time that makes the difference in the lives of the little protagonists who slowly become familiar with the camera by appropriating the footage and the spaces. The passing of the seasons and the years are incredibly significant: kids grow up quickly, make new experiences, deal with ever-changing issues, changing opinions and points of view but above all gradually abandoning some childhood beliefs.
It is impressive to see how everything changes so quickly and it is thanks to the masterly choice of timing and careful editing that this effect is made possible. Never, anywhere, the documentary it turns out chaotic: the risk was there but it is effectively avoided by a well-structured narrative, never judgmental, rather curious and attentive to the needs of the children, to their rhythms which for just over an hour and a half also become ours.
To summarize our review of The Circle, we can say that Sophie Chiarello’s documentary fully achieves the objective it sets for itself: to give children a voice by giving adults a different image of the world. Following an elementary class for five years, the director managed to obtain true and spontaneous speeches and reactions that speak to us of the contemporary without the many, too many superstructures that adults often impose. Excellent editing and storytelling.
Because we like it
- The fresh and spontaneous gaze of children who describe the world and our present with their speeches.
- Accurate and effective assembly.
- The discreet and non-invasive approach of the director.
- Not having found a significant flaw, we can only think that the documentary may not be suitable for those who are not interested in the subject matter.