The Circle Movie Review


By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Anyone remember the days when sending a message to a family member or friend took a couple of months as it had to be delivered by a guy riding on a horse-drawn cart? Yeah, neither do I, but we’ve all read about it in school. Times have certainly changed. Today, just about anything we want is at our fingertips. Want to order food to be delivered to you where you stand? You can do that. Want to live stream the birth of your child? You can do that. But with all of this access to seemingly anything and everything, so goes the privacies we once had, or thought we had. What happens when technology, and specifically, social media, becomes bigger and bigger until it fully encompasses our entire lives? Director James Ponsoldt tackles this question in his latest film, The Circle.

Mae Holland (Emma Watson) is presented an opportunity of a lifetime by her friend Annie (Karen Gillan): an interview at Internet tech company The Circle. After a weird interview, she’s hired on as a guppy, answering calls and improving her social appearance around The Circle campus. She’s soon approached by Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) to embark on a new project from The Circle: to have a daily, 24/7 live broadcast through social media of her life. As Mae’s popularity around the campus, and around the world, grows, so do the projects put forth by The Circle, where cameras are in every city and every corner, able to know what is happening at any time, everywhere. Ty Lafitte (John Boyega) is leery about this new direction of The Circle, as he was a lead designer for the original plans, and soon Mae is seeing the potential dangers of this technology as the effects are being seen not only in her personal life and her family, but all across the world.

Ponsoldt took the book, written by Dave Eggers, and brought it to the big screen, and as well he should have. With our almost dependence on social media today, this was all too relevant of a story not to make into a film. When you think about how deeply social media is engrained in our lives today, from the need to Snap all of our moments, making sure all of our meals are on Instagram, and all of our thoughts and experiences posted on Facebook, along with condensed commentary on Twitter, we probably spend a good portion of our day fully engaged with social media apps. We’re able to get up to the second news on social media, review anything and everything, and even have individual live feeds of whatever people want to stream. Ponsoldt makes sure to magnify that with the source material and shows the potential dangers and pitfalls that we can expect going forward. All the while, the public seems undeterred by what is happening around them, as what was once seen as shocking now has become “everyday” and something to be expected and hits too close to home with our current world we live in.

Emma Watson takes on the role of the recent college graduate from a small town who receives an opportunity of a lifetime and is thrown into a world where she’s a small fish living in a great big ocean. This newness and unfamiliarity is completely relatable if anyone has ever gone away to school or moved out and lived on their own away from that with which they are familiar. And as she begins to adapt, so do her behaviors and actions, as we see a person becoming a product of their environment. Watson finds the levels within the character, and the uncertainty and uneasiness that come along with the situations she is in. It doesn’t always seem 100% authentic, as I feel she’s forcing emotion and reaction at times, instead of letting it come through naturally, but it is what we have. Tom Hanks is put into a role that he could easily play in his sleep, not stretching his thespian skills in the slightest. John Boyega is also almost an afterthought, with a few scenes dispersed throughout the film, adding another dimension and potential complication to Mae’s life. This film really comes down to Watson delivering and, for the most part, she does just that.

The Circle is an interesting look at technology and the growth of social media, showing both potential benefits and downfalls. While the film has an edginess and youthfulness to it that makes this potential ticking time bomb appear light, something just feels like it is missing. Also, the ending is leaves you with a Stewie Griffin “huh?!” head-cocked-to-the-side moment as the actions that have all led to this instance have no bearing on the outcome. It makes me want to read the book to understand what exactly led to this complete 180 degree change from where we’ve been led. The Circle is a decent film overall, with an interesting story and huge potential, but which doesn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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