One of the most consistently stressful situations a person can be placed in is uncertainty regarding finances and job security. And it’s that uncertainty that permeates through Circle of Steel, a film that follows a woman and the team with whom she works as they deal with rumors of impending layoffs. Set in the oil and gas industry and based at least in part on the experiences of its writer-director Gillian McKercher, the film follows Wendy (Chantelle Han), a recent graduate and new employee as she has to come to terms with a lack of security in a field that has been, more often than not, in a state of boom.
Circle of Steel manages to balance the downtrodden nature of its plot and ideas with laughs—some of the black comedy variety—and hope, most of which comes from the surprisingly philosophical conversations and insights in which its protagonist engages. It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the takeaways is that maybe, perhaps, getting laid off wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world; after all, its writer-director had exactly that happen and Circle of Steel exists because of it. That overall optimism helps the movie from feeling like a slog to watch, even if certain events aren’t especially positive.
What does hurt it is its attempts to replicate the mundanity of the day-to-day job experience. We get a few scenes that play out repetitively and ultimately feel more like filler to get the film to feature-length than necessary content, and most of the characters feel more like caricatures than real people. The latter still achieves its desired effect of having us understand the day-to-day grind, and neither is too much of a hindrance on the whole. You’ll want to see Wendy’s story through to the end.
Conclusion: Circle of Steel is an effective drama about the uncertainty of employment.
Recommendation: Circle of Steel is worth checking out if the subject matter sounds interesting.