Utopian ideals fall victim to the foibles of human nature in this feature documentary from Estonian director Margit Lillak.
“There was routine and discipline. All the good things.” And with these words of wisdom, one of the children taking part in the eco-community at the centre of Margit Lillak’s documentary The Circle proves himself entirely more prescient and self-aware than the adults around him. The lifestyle they want to live may be alternative but, as our protagonists discover, it is difficult to find an alternative to human nature.
The most cynical audience members may enjoy the film’s occasional swipe at the excesses of alternative culture, with many a hippy cliché rippling throughout the characters’ personalities. Self-proclaimed shamans dance while scream therapy is proffered to resolve conflict, making for some faintly ridiculous scenes of people earnestly shouting in each other’s faces. But it would be unfair to characterise Lillak’s film as a hatchet job – there’s still much empathy with the characters and we’re never invited to laugh at their plight, especially in the latter half of the film when anger and betrayal bubble to the surface. Rather, there is more of a sense of tragic inevitability here – one may be able to escape from the trappings of capitalist society, but you can’t run away from deep seated human frailties such as jealousy and anger.
Lillak’s access is remarkable, with the film providing many an unguarded moment. Again, the few times when the lead protagonists speak to the camera add an extra level of irony as, for all their hope to create a space in which they can communicate freely with one another – the camera becomes the place where they can reveal their true feelings.
Laurence Boyce, Cineuropa
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Film Title : The Circle
Language : viro, englanti
Director : Margit Lillak
Year : 2019
Length : 94
Age limit : K7
Format : DCP
Cinematographer : Mihkel Soe, Margit Lillak
Editing : Jaak Ollino Jun
Music : Sten Sheripov
Producer : Johanna Trass
Production Company : Allfilm
Title in Original Language : Südamering
Thu 30.1. at 17.00, Orion, followed by a Q&A with director Margit Lillak
Fri 31.1. at 17.15, Kinopalatsi 6, followed by a Q&A with director Margit Lillak
Sat 1.2. at 14.30, Maxim 1, followed by a Q&A with director Margit Lillak