Circle of Friends

Michael Kamen

" An Irish Kamen? Now, there's something we haven't heard before! "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

The movie Circle of Friends isn't exactly the highest known film Michael Kamen scored, yet his Irish background composition is at times quite charming. For 30 minutes, the score mixes again the obnoxious dialogue common apparently for Irish movies throughout the entire album. Just like Angela's Ashes the dialogue makes no impression, but especially here it makes no sense at all. And apart from the 3 songs, we have a Michael Kamen score which is not usual for the people that know him either from X-Men, Robin Hood or Die Hard. This is a soft, playful piece which captures one theme and mixes it around in both a song version and a charming main theme to guide the score through its running time.

Circle of Friends starts with the song version and I can actually see this as sort of an Irish ballad, starting with Maire Brennan and continuing with Shane MacGowan. It's not a brilliant song, but it captures nicely the lovely flair of the main theme and the feeling of love. The opening song is the only one worth hearing, since the short yet classic "Bo Weevil" is normal and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" is a romantic jazzy piece which will be interesting for the fans of the genre.

In between the songs, Kamen's score is interrupted by dialogue. Of course never through the songs because that would be intrusive. The opening dialogue luckily doesn't disrupt the classical harpsichord (stating the main theme) during "Ireland 1949", it does disrupt the emotional piano work during "The Cottage" and luckily it stops before the sprightly Irish music of the Chieftains begins in "Dublin".

One of the finest moments (though how short) is the lovely main theme performance during "Knock Glen" and "Air / You're the One", especially during the latter it receives enough time to melt your heart once. Sadly unworthy dialogue ruins one of Kamen's typical underscore moments in "Sean", but luckily it's also the last dialogue we'll receive. Because after that the lovely theme returns in "Benny & Jack", receiving perhaps it's most heartfelt performance of all. The piano version during "Father's Death" delivers you the main theme for the last time, making it truthfully a one theme listen.

That doesn't stop however the charm of the main theme, making in fact this short listen somewhat worthwhile. I wouldn't recommend buying Circle of Friends though, because it holds not enough score, it has dialogue that infects strangely enough only the score material of Kamen, and it is still a one theme listen. Luckily Kamen's charm and heart is still around that main theme, making it lovely enough for a listen once and a while.

Score: ***
Songs: ***


1. You're the One: Shane MacGowan & Maire Brennan (3.56)
2. Ireland 1949 * (2.28)
3. The Cottage * (2.59)
4. Dublin *+ (2.51)
5. Knock Glen (1.03)
6. Air / You're the One (3.55)
7. Bo Weevil: Fats Domino (1.51)
8. Sean * (2.19)
9. Benny & Jack (1.56)
10. Father's Death (3.52)
11. Love is a Many Splendored Thing: The Long John Jump Band (4.05)

* Containing Dialogue
+ Performed by The Chieftains

Total Length: 31.15
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 4 votes - average 2.63/5)

Released by

Warner Bros 9 45953-2 (regular release 1995)

Conducted by

Michael Kamen