Movie #306 2020: The Circle (2017)

Oh, Emma Watson. Doesn’t it seem like she’ll take literally any role these days? It’s a good job she gone done good with Little Women, otherwise she’d be known for a lot of average movies.

The Circle is a science fiction (sorta) type movie about the dangers of large media companies, social media, and data collection. A movie about data collection? Sounds snoozy, but hang with me here. Watson plays Mae, who excitedly takes a job at one of the world’s biggest internet corporations, and finds herself rising up the ranks quite rapidly. When she reaches the heights of the company, she finds herself in the middle of some big questions about surveillance, privacy, and freedom, as she faces some dire consequences of her job in the meantime.

This is a movie with an interesting albeit outplayed theme (technology bad!) that never reaches its full potential. It just feels at though there are a lot of loose ends and plot lines that aren’t explored in enough depth. It’s pretty evident that what they were going for is a deep, powerful message, but they never quite get there.

As previously alluded to, it’s well known that Emma Watson isn’t exactly Florence Pugh, but it’s nice to see her acting ability somewhat improving American accent aside. (That’s not to say that The Circle isn’t painfully average, of course.) Thankfully Karen Gillan and her Scottish accent are there to make these performances less dire. “I’m worried about the EU but it’s good to know you’re worried about me” is the best line of the movie and it wouldn’t be surprising if it came directly from Gillan as a piece of improv.

Watching this as a double bill with The Social Dilemma is probably a good idea. The latter will basically answer any questions you might have after The Circle leaves you hanging, specifically giving you more insight into what the point of John Boyega’s character was. (Who doesn’t get enough to do here, by the way.)

Interest peaks and dips at a rapid rate throughout, which is to be expected when you see the length of the feature (an all too long 110 minutes). Annoyingly, it has one of the laziest and most predictable endings ever seen in a movie, again going for the whole “technology is dangerous” motif which is so tired and overdone at this point. We get it. Fuck Facebook. And cover up your webcam.

It’s probably harsh to rate this super low as most critics have, because it is gripping for the most part despite not going far enough into things like morality and the ethics of data collection. The script – minus Gillan’s possible improv – isn’t overly impressive either, but it does at least raise some questions that some viewers may not have thought of before. Plus, the grey and red colour schemes are really slick and a pretty cool stylistic choice.

The biggest question you’ll have after watching is simply this: Why did Tom Hanks bother starring in such a mediocre movie?

The Circle is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating:  (it’s more of a 2.5 kind of deal, but certainly not 3 Q-worthy.)

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