A cold hallway with muted colors. The light tap of footsteps on linoleum and a door opening is how we begin SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES. Based on the novel by F.H. Batacan, the Film by Raya Martin follows two Jesuit Priests, as they are called in to help solve a murder in the Payates or Barrio region in the Philippines.
Father Saenz and Father Jerome work forensics with local authorities in order to try and track down a killer as the body count rises from one to seven. Each young boy is found with his genitals removed, and face peeled off. All the victims have been left in the local dump for families foraging for food to find. Joanna Bonifacio played by Carla Humphries is a reporter who was previously taught by Father Saenz in school. As an adult, she reconnects with him in order to find the truth, even as others try to bury it. Carla brings a humble tenacity to the role that blends in with this truly exceptional cast.
This being my first introduction to Raya Martin, I’m blown away by the beauty and hard truth that this film displays. Father Jerome played by Sid Lucero and Father Saenz played by Nonie Buencamino are first introduced to us as they go back and forth regarding the misconduct of a priest they are both familiar with, and how he is simply being moved around but with no real consequences.
As an actor, I was in awe of the way this ensemble cast all presented stellar performances. Each character adding such texture and layers to the overall view of the story. There is a real seamless flow to the way that Father Jerome and Father Saenz work with each other throughout the film. Transitioning from teacher and student, colleges, to Father and son, their relationship is one that at the end of the movie left me wanting to see Father Jerome and Father Saenz attempt to solve more crimes.
With all the recent events happening with the Catholic church and it’s alleged abuses, SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES forces us to ask the question; “When a Sin is committed and Silence is what follows, how can we ignore the Monster that is birthed out of those deeds”
Father Jerome, while teaching his students says, “Time and Forgetfulness, are the allies of abusers.” It’s such a powerful line said to his class and us as viewers. I found myself while watching being dragged deeper into the depths of this film which feature beautifully thought out shots. Watching closely and trying to glean clues from the great prosthetics work by Mackoy Alabado, and finally audibly yelling “No” in some of the films final moments.
SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES is an incredibly well-crafted crime drama that needs to be watched by all so that we may remember that silence is never silent for the victim who is screaming to be heard.
SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES will be released in Los Angeles and additional select markets on March 1 followed by a digital release on March 19.