The Circle: Slick Techno-Thriller Fails to Bring Anything New to Social Media Privacy Rhetoric
Emma WatsonJohn Boyega...
In 1 Cinema
Adapted from a novel by Dave Eggers, The Circle has all of the right ingredients for a compelling and an overall exciting viewing experience – A-list cast, gifted director and an intriguing storyline that resonates strongly with the world we live in today. However, what it does lack is the focus to execute and convey its message the way it was intended.
The story follows Mae Holland (Watson); an eager and but insecure woman who is in a desperate need for a change of scenery. Trying hard to make sense of her rather meek existence, which also includes taking care of her dad, Vinnie (Paxton in his last role) who suffers with multiple sclerosis, Mae’s life soon changes when her best-friend, Annie (Gillan) offers her a chance to join her team in The Circle; a leading social media company – think Google meets Facebook with a bit of Amazon thrown in for good measure – co-founded by a charismatic Steve Jobs-like tech-guru, Eamon Bailey (Hanks).
Starting at the very bottom, Mae soon finds herself under pressure in keeping up with the company’s ideals – which strongly rely on the ideas of complete connectivity and total transparency – and staying in line with sustaining her customer-satisfaction and personal participation score. However, it doesn’t take long before Mae finds a way to demonstrate her worth to Eamon, who during one of company’s usual ‘Dream-Friday’ pep rallies introduces a small and a discreet new camera, the SeeChange, which can be installed anywhere with its broadcast fed live to the world. Happily accepting to broadcast her life to the world, Mae soon grows into one of the most popular and powerful stars, but this privacy-free world doesn’t come without consequences.
Co-penned by director James Ponsoldt – see Smashed, Spectacular Now – and writer Dave Eggers himself, The Circle’s premise is relatively intriguing, especially because there is so much of it that is directly linked and interconnected into issues of privacy today.
However, the story feels outdated in shining the spotlight on these issues and whatever potency it has left is ultimately weakened by a seemingly unfocused and fuzzy execution which fails to draw the audience in. For the most part, it doesn’t really know where it wants to go or what it wants to be or say with its heavily-influenced ideas of privacy – or lack there off – coming across as seemingly old news; for a supposed thriller, there is very little suspense or urgency to the proceedings with all of its so-called ‘shock’ reveals delivering little to no impact.
Failing to bring more to her character, Watson spends most of her time frowning while watching her character descend into the dark side of social media is as interesting as watching paint dry. Luckily, the forever-likable Hanks is there to bring some much-needed gravitas, but he also drowns in this hodgepodge of technobabble that fails to add anything new to the argument.