The Circle

Watching The Circle - a journey from excitement to disappointment 


Oh boy. Here we go. I was SO EXCITED about the movie The Circle when I first saw the teaser trailer. First of all, if you've read any of my other movie reviews, you'll know that I'm a huge Emma Watson fan. But, I'm a big fan of Karen Gillan as well - ever since her Amy Pond days (redheads supporting redheads - yeah!). 
The "implications of big tech" theme of the film intrigued me. I love talking about technology and how innovations can help or harm people so I couldn't wait to see how this film tackled the issue. The excitement was real guys. I purposely didn't read any reviews or watch extended trailers so I was seeing this film with fresh eyes. 

The story begins with Mae (Emma Watson) kayaking around somewhere in California, going to her call center job, and driving her junky car around her hometown. She's stuck in a rut and living at home with her parents. Early into the film, she gets a call from her best friend (? it's unclear) Annie (Karen Gillan) telling her that she scored her an interview at the company she works for, The Circle. The Circle seems to be loosely based on Google and when Mae visits the campus for her interview, she's taken aback by the amount of extracurricular activities that employees are participating in (including "Doga" - yoga with dogs. Got a laugh from the audience). Annie talks a mile a minute about all the great things The Circle offers and how much she loves her job and Mae luckily nails her interview and starts her new job as a contact center representative. As she gets deeper into The Circle culture and community, she starts to lose touch with her family and childhood friend Mercer (who she has very little in common with?). She has to open up her life more and more to The Circle and this escalates until she tries to go on a solo night kayak paddle to get away from it all and almost drowns. What saves her is The Circle cameras which allowed viewers to see her in danger and send a rescue team to get her. The company loves this story and asks her to wear a device to share her life with followers and she agrees. And you'll have to watch the film for the rest of the storyline - I don't want to give it all away!


My issues with this film


OH MY GOD THE SCRIPT IS SO BAD. Wow. wow wow. It's horrible. I was almost in shock of how especially terrible the dialogue in this movie was. Every conversation feels fake and strange, the characters say things that seem out of character. The transitions from scene to scene are sometimes abrupt in an unpleasant way. When the writing really jumps out at you in a negative way on a film to the point where it's a distraction...? Well, you've just lost me!

Poorly written characters: Not a single character in this film feels fleshed out or deep in any way. Relationships are so confusing! Mae and Annie are "great friends" but you have no idea why or how they became friends, especially because at the beginning of the film Mae and Annie are living drastically different lives. And, continuing with Annie, later in the film she turns on Mae seemingly out of nowhere with no real explanation? So confusing. And Mae's friendship with Mercer is unclear as well - they seem to have no chemistry, almost to the point where they don't really get along that well, but she touts him later in the film as one of her best friends. 

Tech issues left largely unexplored: There is no deeper dive into any of the real implications of the tech that The Circle is manufacturing/introducing. Mae "feels" that it might be bad from time to time, but she doesn't think deeper about why these inventions are bad for people. After her three weeks of sharing her life every day, there is no discussion of the burden of putting on a happy face every second (though there are moments where she falters that could have been perfect vehicles for this convo), there is no real exploration of all the ways this wearable tech is harmful to her everyday life - she actually seems happy to be performing for thousands of people. But then she tries to escape from it. Mixed messages, Mae. The inventions that The Circle CEO Tom Hanks introduces have some very clear negative aspects that everyone at the company just blatantly ignores. Where is the focus group for these? Seriously no one is raising their hand and saying "Oh this might bring out the worst in humanity"??? It seemed sort of unbelievable. 


The good?


Some good takeaways: First off, Tom Hanks is such a good choice for a "Steve Jobs" type character. His performance was definitely the best of this film (sorry Emma). Secondly, I love the IDEA of this film. I'm hoping to see more films in the future about technology's effect on human relationships and connections. And that's really it. What a bummer! No even Emma Watson's wardrobe was worth noting. Boo.


Overall, this film is probably worth a watch, but don't expect too much from it. I'm really intrigued to read David Egger's book that this film was based on because I have a gut feeling that it just didn't translate well into a movie.

photo sources: 1 / 2 / 3


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