The Circle must be broken
The scariest thing about The Circle is just how close we are to the technology depicted in the film. With an increasing narrative in the world about government surveillance and teasing an Orwellian future, The Circle couldn’t have been released at a better time. Its a pity then that lead character Mae (Emma Watson) has such a terrible character arc and the film ends so abruptly as there’s potential here for a decent film, squandered by some questionable choices.
Landing a job at social media giants The Circle, Mae quickly rises the ranks to become a prominent figure in the business. As her knowledge and confidence grows, she pushes for a growing emphasis on The Circle dominating all aspects of our lives in a Big Brother type future. Its certainly a questionable choice to have Mae at the forefront of this digital invasion of privacy, especially after being told the dangers around it by ex employee Ty (John Boyega). I can’t help but feel the film would have worked so much better had Mae realized the dangers of giving up all privacy and tried to stop them from within. Alas, this doesn’t happen and instead her motivations are confusing and unrealistic.
Aside from Mae, the rest of the characters are all pretty good. Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) is the architect of the social media giants but instead of a maniacal villain, we get a man who’s doing this because of his son. Tom Hanks is one of the stand out actors here and despite most of the picture dedicated to Mae, he steals the limelight with a great performance.
Its worth noting too that the visual design and presentation of The Circle is really good. When Mae decides to go “transparent” (a vlog that records everything all day) the user comments that pop up around her head are realistic and depict a range of comments you may well see on Youtube videos. The various camera feeds have a real Truman Show feel to them too but aside from these slick presentation cues, the rest of the film is shot pretty averagely. Its during these moments that the satirical look at how close we are to this future really becomes prominent.
Of course, I won’t spoil the ending but suffice to say that The Circle has one of the worst endings in a film released this year. The conflict is left unresolved and Mae’s character left as one of the weakest, most unrealistic protagonists in any film I’ve watched in a long time. Its a shame too as the narrative focus is relatively good and for large stretches of the film builds nicely for an ending that never delivers. Its a shame then that The Circle falls flat on its face when it matters the most as there’s potential here for a decent social media focused film. As it stands, The Circle is a broken, mediocre film that’s in desperate need of a better script.