The Circle is a tremendously messy film that severely lacks in intelligence and wit.
The film stars Emma Watson as Mae, a young girl who gets an entry level position at a powerful technology company called The Circle. Very quickly, Mae gets involved in The Circle’s groundbreaking technological experiments that test the limits of public privacy (similar to corporations like Google or Facebook). As her notoriety increases, Mae begins feeling pressure from the president of The Circle, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to continue pushing the size and scope of the company even further.
The first issue I took with The Circle is the concept, as I knew exactly what the film was going to entail from square one. Within the first twenty minutes, you can guess exactly where the plot will go, what will happen to the characters, and what the ham-fisted moral of the story is. There were zero surprises in store for the audience. At least, nothing you couldn’t guess ten minutes ahead of time.
The actors and actresses in the film are doing their absolute best with what they’re given, but it all comes off as cheesy in the worst way possible. I even found Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, two usually phenomenal actors, to be off their game.
Emma Watson’s character of Mae starts off pretty strong in the first act, however quickly simmers out as the story progresses. The main problem was her motives, as she was written very lopsided and inconsistently. At some points, Mae would realize how horrible The Circle is, and how taking away an individual’s privacy is bad. At other points however, she was an innovator in the company! She would constantly recommend new ways The Circle could weasel their way into other people’s lives. What were the filmmakers going for? Why write her character so erratically? It made no sense to me, and I’m sure it will confuse many other moviegoers as well.
The ending of The Circle was incredibly disappointing, even by its own standards. I felt like anything the film may have been trying to say was immediately extinguished by this ending. I left the theater very confused with the convoluted and vague conclusion this film tries to deliver on.
I guess I understand the point this film was trying to make, that too much connectivity to social media and search engines is bad. The idea that being constantly plugged into Twitter, Facebook, and Google isn’t healthy for society, despite some inherent benefits. However, I think ideas such as this need to be explored in better written and more coherent films than The Circle.
The Verdict: D