There's plenty to worry about online - trolls, fake news, endless spirals of cute puppy videos on YouTube. Then you get to issues like personal information and privacy - with barely a week popping up where you don't hear about Facebook, Apple or Google's latest questionable move into the grey area of our online personas. 'The Circle' tries to tackle this issue and push the boundaries of what's acceptable for an online company - but will it instil fear, or having you hit Crl + Alt + Del?
Emma Watson stars as Mae, a woman who lands her dream job at an impressive tech company called The Circle. It seems that their goal is to improve the world - keep people connected, help improve human rights, and provide a greater transparency for politicians. Her boss (Tom Hanks) notices Mae, and decides to make her the company’s global ambassador. Despite warnings from The Circle’s legendary figures (including John Boyega of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’) Mae ends up in over her head.
Having been adapted from Dave Eggers’ book (which I haven't taken in), it seems 'The Circle' deviates somewhat from its source material - particularly with its ill-fitting ending. The screenplay takes forever to set up the world of 'The Circle' - forgetting it's meant to be a message for the world we're currently living in - and yet when the actual story begins, it feels incongruent to everything we've already seen. Particularly the last 10 minutes it all comes crashing down, with a bafflingly contradictory conclusion. Mae acts completely differently than the character we're introduced to, and leaves us with no one in the film to get behind and root for. It's like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Emma Watson tries valiantly to make Mae interesting and cohesive, but the material she's working with is too far gone. Her character moves from boring set piece to boring set piece, doing nothing more but learning unnecessary tidbits about The Circle that do little to advance the plot. Tom Hanks plays her boisterous boss, who hosts Apple-like conferences where we're again told a lot of stuff about The Circle. John Boyega may as well not even be in the film, and is entirely wasted in a role that adds nothing to the story. Karen Gillan fares a little better, and breathes the most life into her role, but again just drifts in and out of the story.
There's really nothing to make this film stand out whatsoever.
The screenplay is dull, and so is the direction. There's nothing noteworthy of James Ponsoldt's ('The Spectacular Now') work: filmed very plainly, and offering little creativity to bring the titular tech company to life - the text messaging and camera overlays vital to this film are pretty lacklustre and have been done better before. There's really nothing to make this film stand out whatsoever.
There's a very good reason 'The Circle's' Australian release date has repeatedly been pushed back for months: it's an unadventurous, mediocre, irrational warning of a future without privacy. My warning, however, is much more pertinent - if you dare to endure this film, have very low expectations.