Columbus Circle is an odd little curio, a direct-to-DVD thriller with a solid cast, featuring the not inconsequential talent of Selma Blair, Amy Smart, Jason Lee, Giovanni Ribisi, Kevin Pollak and Beau Bridges. A decade ago this may even have had a theatrical release, but we live in harsh economic times, hence its debut on disc.
George Gallo and Kevin Pollak wrote the script for Columbus Circle within a matter of weeks in an attempt to utilize sets which were constructed for another film that fell apart due to lack of money. The result is a well acted Hitchcockian thriller that is better than it should be, but ultimately it pushes the boundaries of credibility a little too far.
Abigail Clayton (Selma Blair) is an agoraphobic heiress who lives in an apartment block on Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. Her settled life is thrown into turmoil when an elderly neighbour is murdered. She has to face people for the first time in over a decade, when a curious detective (Giovanni Ribisi) comes knocking at her door, but things take a darker turn when the apartment across the hall is rented to argumentative couple (Amy Smart and Jason Lee).
Ironically, the weak link in Columbus Circle is Blair’s heiress, a character who fails to attract sympathy, while the other characters swirl around her. Ribisi’s detective is infinitely more interesting and it’s a shame that he’s sidelined in the latter third of the film. Ribisi has shown a growing maturity as an actor, and he’s the standout here, although Lee and Pollak also offer good value for money in their limited roles.
Gallo and Pollak’s script has its moments, with some interesting dialogue raising it about the usual direct-to-DVD fare, and the film offers its fair share of twists and turns – some of them unexpected, a few not so much. Tonally, Columbus Circle shifts from comedy to suspense with relative ease, although as a director Gallo has an over-reliance on flashbacks, which only really serve to bump-up the films already slight running time.
When all is said and done it’s the quality of the acting which raises Columbus Circle above its peers in DVD purgatory, making it an entertaining time passer.