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Film facts
Plot summary
General comments
Reviews of Circle of Friends
Comments about Colin
Comments by Colin
Favorite Quotes
Colin As Cad
Web links
Back to Main Roles page



This is a coming of age film set in Ireland during the 1950's. This story follows three friends and the romantic choices they make. The story deals with the issues of morality and sexuality, virgins and villians, with some raging hormones and religious overtones.


Colin Firth's Character

In Circle of Friends, Colin's character is a cad--a "callow aristocratic debaucher." He plays the spoiled Protestant local landowner's son. His sole duty is to marry for money - yet he is on the make. Then his path crosses that of one of the three friends - who sees him as a way to escape her middle class, Catholic world.

Colin's character is self-centered and weak. He is low enough to bring a sex "how to book" on dates--complete with pictures. The only thing that saves the Simon character from being the worst in the film is the appearance of "Pee Wee Herman" lookalike Alan Cumming, whose creepy antics make Simon's pale by comparison.

Colin's role is a secondary one (under 15 minutes spread out over the whole movie): he becomes the lover of one of the friends (Nan - Saffron Burrows), but of the three friends, Bernie (Minnie Driver), is really the main character in the film. Colin's scenes in this film mostly involve sex and money. We see him first as a "romantic" figure as he rides in the woods -- through the three friends' eyes when they are girls. Then we see him in several scenes in his family house - when his family agrees to pay for one of the three girls' education and later when his mother is pressuring him to marry for money, and finally trying to pay off Nan.

The sex scenes involve his relationship with Nan. The visual of CF on the deflowering bed pantless but still donning his sport shirt and black ankle socks stays with you long after the movie is over.


Coming soon: URL link to Jane's Firth articles page, for the full-length versions of articles from which quotes are taken.


Laurie Winer   Harper's Bazaar -- May 1996:

. . . Firth had earlier created a string of film portrayals of enormous delicacy and scope . . . To get a sense of his [Colin's] range, compare his intensely intelligent and prideful Darcy with the role he filmed just prior: the unappetizing, dissipated Simon Westward, a British aristocrat who seduces the beautiful Irish lass Nan (Saffron Burrows) in Pat O'Connor's 1995 film "Circle of Friends." Compare Darcy's black, piercing stare with Simon's dull, affectless response to Nan, who, about, to surrender her virginity, confides to him that she has been saving herself for "someone really special." Firth does, however, carry one trait from character to character--his unique ability to make thought both visual and active, to use his face as a screen.

The Telegraph Magazine Supplement -- LIFE AFTER MR. DARCY, Colin Firth on Lust and Football

FIRTH FEVER. Costume Drama's Mr. Cool.
January 1997. Interview by Sue Summers.

"...But Firth is determined to stay close to him (his son, Will), jumping on planes for weekends like other people take buses.  When he was making Circle of Friends in Ireland he rented a flat for himself, his son and a nanny -- cutting, colleagues remember, a rather poignant figure of lone parenthood."

Coming soon: URL link to Jane's Firth articles page, for the full-length versions of articles from which quotes are taken.


 Pat O'Connor also directed Colin in one of Colin's major roles--as Tom Birkin in A Month In The Country.
Ciaran Hinds, who has a minor role as a professor, starred with Colin in Hostages.

Alan Cumming is a personal friend of Colin Firth's. He attended the English Patient premiere with Colin.


Simon says "No" to Nan...

REVIEWS of Circle of Friends

Washington Post -Hinson
For the ambitious, manipulative Nan, a long-stemmed siren with Lauren Bacall eyes, men are simply a means to an end. Hoping to pull herself out of the working-class squalor of her past, Nan latches onto Simon (Colin Firth), a wealthy Protestant cad who deflowers her, then tosses her over when she becomes pregnant.

Film Freak Fantasies-Hartnett
The performances of Minnie Driver, Geraldine O' Rawe, and Saffron Burrows are all adequate. Colin Firth, as usual, is flawless, although his appearance is a cameo. Alan Cumming never ceases to amaze me and I can only imagine what future holds for this multi-faceted actor ("Oh, dearie me!").

An Italian Review
breve di: Kino (Alessandro Bencivenni) [italiano]
Nan, la ragazza piu' affascinante e sensuale, di origini modeste, s'innamora di un conte inglese squattrinato (Colin Firth) che, dopo averla messa in cinta vorrebbe farla abortire;
Translation thanks to Janet
Nan, the most fascinating and sensual of the girls, of modest origin, falls in love with a penniless English "count" (Colin Firth) who, after getting her pregnant wants her to have an abortion.

Roger Ebert
Parallel story involves Benny's friend Nan (Saffron Burrows), superficially glamorous, and Simon (Colin Firth), a member of the Protestant land-owning class, whose family intends him to marry for money. Nan knows just what she wants, and it's not "one of these college boys." She wants an older, sophisticated man, and thinks Simon fits her needs. She goes after him with guile and charm, and he succumbs - or seems to, until the plot involves itself in betrayals and renunciations.


"Nan................Oh Nan"

" I can't wait much longer for you Nan"

"I can't afford to marry you, Nan"

"Who is that little chap" (points to Catholic statue)



LW "rating system":

***** Superb/breathtaking/heartstopping/etc
**** Excellent
*** Very pleasing
** Still lovely, but . . .
* Bad hair day

personal ratings:

** Colin's looks
*** Colin's acting ability
*** The film in general
** Ranking in the films of Colin Firth
** Watchability & rewind factor

Definitely a bad hair day!

To come: Friends of Firth "Circle of Friends" ratings


There has been some discussion, as to whether this is Colin's "caddiest" role, and some people support that point of view. No one can deny the Simon is one of the strongest candidates for the caddiest--after all, he kisses and then kisses off.

Another candidate is Alan in Out of the Blue, but since he is a more developed character, his "caddyness" toward women is balanced a bit by his obsession with creating fictions as a director/artist and also by the fact that Chirstie gets to tell him off several times.

Now Valmont--one could argue that the charm of the character as played by Colin almost outweighs all the sexual exploits, and that the film does not emphasize the evil manipulativeness of the characters as described in the novel Les Liaisons Dangeureuses -- indeed, Valmont becames the victim of other people's manipulations here.

And in The Deep Blue Sea, Freddie might be seen as a cad in the eyes of the world in his relationship with Hess, but he at least recognizes that he is incapable of deep love and is doomed to be the "homme fatale." Basically he is just shallow--and aware of the fact.

Another candidate is Charles Holroyd in The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd, but is the play too tragic for him to be a cad?

Jess is a strong candidate in A Thousand Acres. After all, he basically leaves Ginny because Rose offers him a better financial prospect, and he knows that she truly cares for him.

So, is Jess caddier than Simon? It's up to you to judge.


 Does hairstyle contribute to the development of Simon Westward's character?

If you closely, you might notice that at the beginning of the film, Simon's hair looks full and fluffy with the sun reflecting behind it as Simon is viewed as romantic by the three girls as they spy on him as he rides through the forest. As the film progresses, and Simon's on the make (with Nan), his hair is as styled as his approach and attitude. And near the end, in the scene where Simon tries to pay off Nan, his hair appears flat, greasy, and slimy to reflect his character as now perceived by Nan. One might say that by the end of the film, his conscience as well as hair could use a thorough cleaning.


Back to Main Roles page

Visit Sharon's Pages on Circle of Friends

Visit the original Friends of Firth website, which now incorporates the Circle of Friends web ring

Visit Murph's website- includes listings for other Firth websites

Visit Lisa's overview of Colin's career & web page

Visit Lisbeth's Colin Firth Timeline

Visit Maeve Binchy Information

Irish History Links

Irish Mythology

Visit My Jonathan Firth Pages



This page written by Mickie and Janet, assembled by Murph

It is part of a Firthland project on the films of Colin Firth.

Snappy photos taken from video by Sharon

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