Saturday, 9 March 2013

Full Circle (1977) Richard Loncraine

Something of a cult notable but rarely aired on the box and seemingly unavailable on DVD, Full Circle (aka. The Haunting of Julia) sits firmly in the land of the flawed gem. An adaptation of a novel by Peter Straub (called Julia, I've not read it) it has some troubles typical of horror adapted from literature, and possibly marks of production woes too. Characters and their relationships which might in a novel be well delineated, deeply if not clearly considered and wrought, here are somewhat more sketchy, and one subplot is allowed to drop without impact. Also, more is said than shown of the stories horror, an approach which feels at times more TV theatre than cinematic. Now in context there's useful purpose. The focus is tightly on Julia, after the tragic death of her daughter (the days before everyone was taught the Heimlich) seeking to start new life alone, away from her interfering husband. That other characters have bare looks in, that we see them entirely in relation to her says much for her isolation. And the use of exposition over flashbacks, tense, frightened faces, quavering voices, sinister underswells in the delivery, draws out of the supernatural aspects the comfort of the concrete, one is never too far from the thought that poor Julia is simply delusional, caught up in the fancies of others, spinning from what meagre material she finds a web all the more dangerous for being insubstantial. Well maintained but precarious, patchy. There's a lot of potential for serious study here that goes wasting, guilt, paranoia, oppressions of family living, persistence of evil and cold calculations of darkness, while generally speaking brevity is a boon to this sort of genre cinema here an expanded treatment would be ideal, and for the characters, the straightforward drama too.

Luckily Mia Farrow's central performance is excellent, porcelain beauty that seems to silent speak of inner cold, hurt emptiness, bewildered longing. She holds everything together with clammy compulsion and quiet moments of deep sadness, in fact her turn is one of the few such that actually moved me somewhat. Tom Conti provides good support and contrast as an affable, concerned friend, though Keir Dullea is a tad wasted as the low key antagonist husband The scare scenes are often rather fine too, simple stuff but intense and unnverving (there's one pretty sweet jump scare here), building to a powerful climax. So it all works, even if it could have been... more. Strong 7/10 I guess.

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