When you consider the talent involved – Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, and Karen Gillan – it would be easy to assume that The Circle has all the makings of a great film. Sadly, although the cautionary satire tale has a few very ambitious ideas, James Ponsoldt is unable to steer it all towards a rewarding finish. The result is an ominous film that cleverly pokes fun of millennials, scientology and Silicon Valley, but struggles to make its message crystal clear.
With only 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, most people will probably be avoiding The Circle come release day. Critics certainly haven’t been kind to the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel by Dave Eggers. Most of the complaints lie with the film’s lacklustre ending. But is the journey as important as the final destination? The studio is certainly betting on it. Even still, this isn’t half as bad as you’d expect from a film with such a low score. You could do much worse when you consider some of the other terrible films currently screening at the local cinema.
For all its faults, The Circle actually has something important to say. If you catch the message amidst all the scattered ideas, you’ll be haunted by a scary foreseeable future.
Mae (Emma Watson) begins work at The Circle, a social media company that feels more like a cult than a day job. The staff are super happy and all live and play together on a large estate where founder Eoman Bailey (Tom Hanks) reigns as a king. When Mae discovers his master plan to connect and document every person in the world digitally 24/7, she volunteers as the guinea pig and brings many of the company’s bizarre ideas to fruition. With tiny cameras following her everywhere she goes, the entire world watches and interacts with Mae on daily basis (like The Truman Show). It’s not long before Mae becomes a worldwide sensation. Her new-found popularity, of course, comes with a new set of problems.
The film goes on to question things like privacy and accountability while showing the horrors that await those who use social media without putting any boundaries in place.
We’re heading for a scary crash and Ponsoldt is attempting to warn audiences of the evil potential of the digital space. However, The Circle sadly isn’t the most convincing argument. There are too many complex issues to address in just one single movie. Even with the actors all giving decent performances, the film’s finale, ultimately, fails to soar above being average.
Yet, despite all its flaws, I’d still recommend seeing The Circle. At least give it a chance.