Shot as a graduation film at Berlin’s Film and TV Academy, “Circling” is cut a few notches above the ordinary in its description of the bonding between a young hippie father, jobless and often drunk, and his 15-year-old son with a yen for go-cart racing. The predictable tale, enlivened by well-limned, offbeat characters, has the emotional, childish father enter his mature, ice-cool offspring in a national competition, using his landlord as the venture’s comic financier. Finely shot in a no man’s land of parking lots and race tracks, pic is well positioned to win small screen family slots in related territories.
Helmer Jacob Hilpert keeps the tone light but not saccharine. Long-haired Paul (Cornelius Schwalm), an unsuccessful airbrush artist who looks like the strong-faced American Indians he admires, sees his son Niki (Jakob Matschenz) on weekends. Together they hatch a plan to win a big cash prize at the go-cart races. Hilpert paints a skillful portrait of this tacky world, where kids strain to fulfill their parents’ fantasies. Comic relief comes from their reluctant sponsor, who ultimately makes a heroic sacrifice so Niki can follow his star.