The Circle

2017-07-14 07:42
 

What it's about:

As she rises through the ranks of the world’s largest tech and social media company, “The Circle,” Mae is encouraged by company founder Eamon Bailey to live her life with complete transparency. But, no one is really safe when everyone is watching.

What we thought:

Every generation has their fears of the future. Nuclear war, fascist regimes or alien invasion; all of these have been stuck in the imaginations of filmmakers trying to give the populace a good scare – either for entertainment or as a warning. The Circle harnesses people’s fears regarding the advancement of technology and the growing panic when it comes to invasion of privacy. Unlike other dystopian movies, The Circle focuses more on the origin of a Big Brother-esque future, set in current times amongst plausible scenarios. This could have been a very interesting concept to explore, but instead it’s bogged down by wooden performances and superficial emotions.

Mae (Emma Watson) lands a dream job at global tech company The Circle, where ‘sharing is caring’ and social media permeates the work culture. After a canoeing accident, the CEO (Tom Hanks) of the company talks her into taking part in an experimental project where her every move is documented, and she learns the true cost of sharing her life with the world.

The whole premise of this movie is basically a ‘what if’ scenario of a company like Google (we all know they are talking about Google) is evil and starts involving itself in the civic and political sphere. What is odd though is that it’s not clear cut what message the film is trying to convey. It keeps swerving between ‘technology is good’ to ‘technology is bad’ and though the end is surprising, it leaves you even more confused as to what the agenda of the movie is, though it looks surprisingly like the start of one of those dystopian future movies. I hate movies that don’t take a stand though, even if I don’t agree with them, and The Circle seems more intent on showing off their cast rather than giving us an interesting story.

There’s a lot of big hitters in the cast, from Watson to Hanks to the late Bill Paxton to rising star John Boyega, but no one really had any memorable moments that stood out. Karen Gillan, who plays the overworked friend that landed Mae her job, felt like the only cast member that made some effort in her performance, and the bathroom scene between her and Watson was probably the most poignant one. Mae has a few minutes of toilet time where she can escape her self-surveillance and Gillan is trying to teeter back from the edge of a breakdown. It felt like both had a moment where they could escape from the movie itself and breathe, and the audience breathes with them, before they go back into a monotonous movie.

Conspiracy enthusiasts would enjoy The Circle, though it’s at least a little subtler with its portrayal of the influence such a company (coughcoughGooglecoughcough) could have on society. In this regard, the movie feels quite patronising of its portrayal of millennials, who make up the majority of the workforce at The Circle, as cellphone robots that just live for their company and technology. We’re not a flock of sheep, but I guess they can’t make everyone an individual in a movie. Or make Watson believable as an American. 


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