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Critic's Pick

'Circle of Friends'

February 25, 1996|Peter Rainer

Set mostly in 1957, this 1995 release is about the coming of age of three best friends--Irish schoolgirls from a small town who go on to attend college in Dublin. It's sweet, winsome and a little pat, done with just enough feeling to lift it out of its class. The Irish eyes in "Circle of Friends" are smiling--not grinning shamelessly. Bernadette (Minnie Driver, pictured with Chris O'Donnell), or, as she is called, Benny, narrates the film. The friends meet a charming college student (Chris O'Donnell), which is dramatized as both a sexual and an intellectual awakening. Directed by Pat O'Connor and scripted by Andrew Davies from the Maeve Binchy novel (Cinemax Friday at 8 p.m.).

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