The Circle (2017)

Emma Watson plays herself Mae, a young woman who gets an entry-level job at sinister social media behemoth Facebook “The Circle,” thanks to her friend, and high-ranking Circle executive, Karen Gillan. At first, Mae treats it like any other job and y’ know, goes home and does stuff outside of work, that sort of thing, till it becomes clear that working for the Circle is meant to be a more immersive experience than that. Instead of running away at top-speed shouting “This is a cult! These people are insane! Save me!’ however, Mae ignores a parade of red flags, chugs down all the Kool-aid in one go, and becomes the poster girl for the transparency revolution instead. Or something. Anyway, it all goes very badly wrong because duh, and the scenes where that happens are genuinely powerful, making the point about privacy and mob mentality that the entire movie (currently available on Netflix UK) is desperate to make in horribly plausible, disturbing fashion.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t fare quite as well. It’s reasonably entertaining and fine to pass the time on a quiet day, but Watson is miscast (and Mae is an idiot), Gillan’s story arc belongs in a different film, John Boyega just sort of hangs around, waiting for something to do, and the ending is abrupt and confusing. Circle leader Evil Tom Hanks (playing against type) though, is terrific – far and away the best thing about the whole shebang. It’s a real shame we don’t see more of him and fellow Circle chief Evil Patton Oswalt; since the “good” characters are much less interesting, more focus on the bad ones and their motives (which are so quickly glossed over in a few lines we’re pretty much left to guess at them) might have made for a better, darker drama and a clearer message than “Facebook bad! Except when it’s not!” There’s definitely a great film to be made about the dangers of the pervasive, insidious, soon-to-be-all-encompassing power and danger of social media but however much The Circle would like to be that film, it isn’t.

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2 thoughts on “The Circle (2017)

  1. Bill July 26, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    I am with you on this CJ. Having read the book I thought Emma was miscast. Started to watch and couldn’t be bothered finishing it.

    • CJ Cregg July 28, 2017 / 11:06 pm

      Would you recommend the book? I’m quite interested in the concept although the film’s execution of it wasn’t great.

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