I don’t do a lot of movie reviews, but this film flew under the radar, so it’s worth the examination now that it’s out on DVD and streaming. The Circle is a film that feels relevant in its questions with a strong cast full of fandom favorites.
In the film, we meet our main character Mae, a quiet and impoverished but well-connected millennial who lives in a slummy suburb of San Francisco. When her friend Annie grants her an interview at the Facebook-esque social media company The Circle, Mae’s Cinderella story begins. When her choices simultaneously raise her to internet fame and alienate her from her family and childhood friend Mercer, Mae starts to lose faith in the world she’s become so connected to.
Based on the titular book by David Eggers, the film presents a cast of complex characters played by remarkable actors. It’s a fandom potpourri with star Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, John Boyega from Star Wars Episode VII, and Karen Gillan, a certain Time Lord’s companion. Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt round out the big names with plenty of excellent non-A-list actors.
What’s haunting is the proximity of the dystopian-esque future the film creates. It’s hard not to giggle at their spoof of the millennial obsession with posting pictures and videos of everything, but your stomach hopefully turns when the idea of “transparency” and wearing a camera 24/7 for social watchdog purposes becomes the focus.
The film refuses to openly comment and won’t hit you over the head with any one message, but it certainly begs a lot of questions. Is it ok for a private company to interfere with personal liberties? What if someone decided that citizens should be forced to vote? Is social media becoming the grounds for a mob mentality? For this reason, The Circle is a film to watch. It’s good to question the implications of a future where social media becomes big brother.
Where the film falls flat is the ending. Well, lack there of actually. Our main character is set up for an epiphany and could be a game-changer, but her choice is muddy and unfulfilled in the end. If the writer and director chose this route to blatantly say “I’m not passing judgement,” it was a bad call because it left the story less meaningful after a climactic set-up. This would be an interesting film to watch with friends who are willing to debate during or after the movie. In any case, it may not be a fun date night flick unless you and your mate have the same mind about the nature of privacy and enjoy a deep discussion over popcorn. Enjoy the hair-raising rising action and climax and maybe if you fall asleep ten minutes before the end, you’ll be the happier. You’ll surely share your experience on social media, right?