Going Around the Benz
Not to be confused with the 1995 movie "Circle of Friends" which was based on a Maeve Binchy novel, this 2006 movie called "Circle of Friends" is to be honest a nice but also standard TV thriller. In fact whilst "Circle of Friends" was written by Joyce Heft Brotman it has the same sort of feel about it as a movie adapted from a Nora Roberts' novel. As such we have this mystery of a group of old school friends being picked off one by one whilst a return to her home town leads to some romance for one of the characters.
When Maggie (Julie Benz - The Long Shot) returns to her hometown for a funeral of an old school friend she finds herself catching up with her old clique as well as her first love. But whilst there she discovers that several people from their school year have died over the last few months and whilst the cops think there is nothing suspicious Maggie does, especially when she finds a photo linking all the people who have died which include her late husband.
To be honest "Circle of Friends" doesn't feel that original, not in story or style, in fact it feels like a lot of other TV movies. That is not a criticism because what director Stefan Pleszczynski delivers is okay, it keeps your attention but you are not really going to remember it for anything or want to go out of your way to watch it again.
So having said that we have this textbook mystery movie, we have Maggie turning detective to try and prove that someone is targeting the class of 1992 whilst she also finds herself hooking up with Harry, her first love. The romantic subplot adds little to the movie other than feeling obligatory leading to the obvious question of whether or not when things are over will he go to New York to be with her or will she permanently return home.
As for the mystery well there are a lot of red herrings in this movie and whilst you can see through many of them it does keep you on or your toes. And as to the final reveal, well whilst handled a bit abruptly and a little too completely the twist which leads to it is as actually a pleasant surprise. If that sounds vague it is meant to be because whilst "Circle of Friends" is nothing more than average the slight cleverness of the final twist is a nice touch and worth experiencing with out any spoilers.
As for the performances well we have a pleasant collection of actors such as Julie Benz and Chris Kramer but their characters are just typical flat TV movie characters. In fact some of the characters are stereotypes and if I told you that Maggie was a fashion designer you know she has to have a camp friend, it is that routine. But whilst unoriginal and flat the characters are not bad, just need more fleshing out to be truly believable.
What this all boils down to is that "Circle of Friends" is a solid TV thriller which delivers exactly what you expect from a made for TV movie. It's not that original or memorable but an enjoyable distraction for 90 minutes or so.