Columbus Circle is one of those films that you find yourself entertained by, but you're not entirely sure if this might be because it's very good, or perhaps instead the kind of very bad that's good.
I strongly suspect the latter. Regardless, there's a fun little romp to be had here; indeed, this is as daft as a box of frogs.
Set around the titular and real-life Manhattan landmark, Selma Blair (Hellboy) stars as Abigail Clayton: a ridiculously wealthy heiress who suffers from a severe case of agoraphobia. Not having left her apartment in years, her true identity is a jealously guarded secret. The young woman, having run from the public eye as soon as was possible, only has contact with an old family friend (Beau Bridges) and the building's concierge (Kevin Pollak, doubling as joint screenwriter).
When her elderly neighbour is discovered dead, the police suspect murder, and Abigail is devastated at the notion of her quiet, deeply private life being disturbed. So it's just unfortunate for her that she's compelled to help when her new neighbour is subject to an attack by her drunken, abusive boyfriend.
At first glance the film gives reason to take it seriously. For instance, Abigail's introductory scenes see her almost completely shadowed by darkness, which is slowly peeled back the longer she is forced to endure the invasion of her home. Come the end of her interrogation by a policeman (Giovanni Ribisi), she is bathed in full light, signifying the shift in her reality: her hermitic life has been dragged into the world, irreversibly so—or at least in this particular story. It's a stylish device that's not expected in what will become a trashy thriller.
the hamminess present is rather irritating, leading to insulting
As such, the hamminess present is rather irritating, leading to insulting. Almost every single line of dialogue is delivered campily—the only actor playing it straight is Blair—which jars with these stylistic elements. I usually enjoy watching Jason Lee (best known for My Name is Earl; bet he hates that), so when his character, Charles, is inflicting violence on his girlfriend (Amy Smart, The Butterfly Effect) in such a cartoonish manner, it is disappointing.
A ludicrous plot twist explains this, however. But, should you ponder the film turning back to some seriousness, don't. More twists are thrown our way, each more predictable than the last, taking Columbus Circle firmly into parody and a climax that is just laugh-out-loud absurd. Was this George Gallo's—the film's director and other screenwriter—intention? It's almost impossible to tell.
parody and a climax that is just laugh-out-loud absurd
The run-time is very short at just 82 minutes, which was a wise move. Had it edged much over 90, the film would be a lot less tolerable. Instead, it's some very welcome escapism—and sometimes it's nice to watch something that doesn't make you think.
But there is certainly no cause for repeat viewings, and I do ponder why on earth a release on Blu-ray?
Naila Scargill is editor and publisher of Exquisite Terror, an academic take on the filmic horror genre. www.exquisiteterror.com