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‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’ earns rave reviews on opening day

TBA Studios’ crime thriller “Smaller and Smaller Circles” has been making online buzz and earning rave reviews from film critics and the general public since it opened.

It’s official: Filipino viewers are looking closer. TBA Studios’ crime thriller “Smaller and Smaller Circles” has been making online buzz and earning rave reviews from film critics and the general public since it opened in theaters on Wednesday, December 6.

“Smaller and Smaller Circles,” directed by Raya Martin, is the much-awaited big screen adaptation of Filipino author F.H. Batacan’s award-winning novel of the same name. The movie tells the story of two Jesuit priests tasked to solve the murder of young boys who were eviscerated and thrown in the teeming slums of Payatas by a serial killer.

Smaller and Smaller Circles

Literary stars and media personalities such as National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Bienvenido Lumbera, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Myrza Sison, and Liza Gokongwei Cheng, among others, have already shown support for the film during its premiere night last December 2.

Since then, more and more people have been talking about this film, taking to social media to express their thoughts.

“I enjoyed watching ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles!’ I’m teaching Philo of Religion to a class of seniors, and have urged them to watch it for its relevance to our discussion on the natures of evil, despair, and hope,” said Ramon Sunico, college professor at the Ateneo de Manila University.

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He added: “It’s also quite heartening to know that companies like TBA Studios are now looking to contemporary Philippine literatures as source material for their film projects. Bravo — hope this happens more frequently in the local film industry.”

“The young director Raya Martin is evidently masterful with noir filmmaking. He handles the ensemble just as masterfully,” said Alfred Yuson, poet and Palanca Awards Hall of Famer. The acclaimed writer also said the film is “gripping,” its cinematography “outstanding,” and its performances — led by Nonie Buencamino, Sid Lucero, Carla Humphries, and Bembol Roco — above par.

"It’s a brave and successful effort to transpose a fine novel into a fine film," Yuson added. "I’m rooting for a grateful, intelligent audience."

"There are directorial intelligence and a sense of craft at work here, so that the narrative unspools smartly," said poet and journalist Luis Francia. "Produced by the same outfit that made 'Heneral Luna', 'Smaller and Smaller Circles' is well worth viewing, and not just as a vote against the mindless tripe that distributors/illiterati too often favor but as part of a collective effort to render Philippine film deeper and more rewarding.

Writer Irish Dizon tweeted: “Some films are not hinged on a good story. Some are created for the sake of the ride. ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’ delivers both. I’m no critic but I know that this movie—a simple, disturbing whodunit set against the corrupt tapestry of Philippine society—was worth leaving the house for.”

She also asked Filipino moviegoers to see “Smaller and Smaller Circles” beyond its entertainment value.

“It’s a call to action—for you to act on the injustices you see around you,” Dizon said.

Film critic and blogger Tristan Zinampan also urged his followers on Twitter to support the local cinema industry by watching “Smaller and Smaller Circles.”

“The reality is that if you don’t support a Filipino film in its first two days, chances are it won’t reach the weekend. So if you want to catch ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles,’ don’t wait. Do it today or tomorrow,” he said.

People on social media are certainly responding to the call. “Smaller and Smaller Circles” is a consistent trending topic on Twitter since it opened in theaters on Wednesday.

It remained in the top ten trending topics for the whole day on Twitter during its opening day — a sign that Filipino viewers are clamoring for a movie like “Smaller and Smaller Circles”, a riveting film with a powerful and relevant message.

Smaller and Smaller Circles” is showing in theaters nationwide.

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