The Circle


Victor Wei

Set in modern day California and situated in a world eerily similar to 1984, The Circle is a sci-fi thriller that combines The Truman Show with The Social Network, in a suspenseful film that explores the danger of technology and its threats to privacy.

The movie, based on Dave Eggers’ 2014 novel The Circle, follows Mae Holland (Emma Watson), in her life since landing a job at The Circle, a supposedly futuristic company that is essentially the poster child of Google and Facebook, combined with Apple-like features. While at The Circle, she meets CEO Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), a Steve Jobs-like visionary, as well as founder, Ty Laffite, (John Boyega) and is confronted with the ability to change the world through her actions.

Besides a few moments of building suspense, the most interesting thing about the movie was the concept. Throughout the film, intriguing concepts are presented, and while they seem beneficial at first, upon further inspection, they prove to be rather cynical. For example, why not insert GPS chips into kids bones, so they can be tracked anywhere they go, and thus prevent murder, kidnapping, and rape? Why shouldn’t politicians go “transparent”, and display every phone call, email and meeting they have to the general public and thus show the world they aren’t doing anything illegal? If you don’t want to showcase your life for the public, what secrets do you have to hide?

Today, you can find information about anyone on the web. Whether it be their age, address or phone number, personal information is becoming more and more accessible to the public. In a world becoming increasingly dependent on technology and situated around social media, this movie truly strikes feelings of uncertainty about disclosing our private information to the web. The Circle also shows that even the smart and innocent cannot be protected. As we watch Emma Watson transform from a sweet, kind person into a mad lunatic, we can only help feel disturbed.

As an avid fan of Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega, I was originally drawn into the movie by the cast. Starting with Emma Watson, she satisfies yet again, with a stellar performance and portrayal of Mae Holland. For example, Watson successfully incorporated many different emotions into her acting. When she cried in the emotional scenes, it was particularly moving, which isn’t typical for a sci-fi thriller. By fully embodying all the characteristics of her character–from perfectly achieving Mae’s initial curiosity and surprise at the new world around her, to a more confident figure, Watson creates the perfect yet realistic protagonist, which only helps to make The Circle even more genuine and sinister.

Tom Hanks completely kills it as well.

In all of his scenes, he is everything that you would expect a tech company CEO to be – charming, charismatic and extremely optimistic. John Boyega masters his character too, at least, as much as he can. Boyega’s character was cut to the point of only a few lines and a few scenes, most of which take place with him looking concerned while sitting in a backlit stage.

In the book, Boyega’s character was an integral part of the story, and the storyline of Ty Laffite also carried the main plot twist, which was unfortunately cut off from the film. Essentially, Boyega’s character was presented, jumped from scene to scene and was not fully developed at all. Despite Emma Watson being as impressive as she is, as the film closed out with a final scene of her, I found myself craving for a few more scenes of Hanks and Boyega.

The movie was also slightly underdeveloped overall. The introduction seemed quite rushed and the fact that events happened so suddenly (as opposed to the book) made this movie definitely capable of being drawn out. There was a huge collage of ideas that Ponsoldt was trying to mesh together, and with the message that the movie was trying to send being very deep and meaningful, the fact that events are so compacted prohibits the audience from really being able to comprehend and absorb in full detail what is happening. If scenes weren’t so fast moving, then the movie could’ve been truly unforgettable.

All in all, The Circle, although not spectacular, was a very unique movie, which, in my opinion, is enough reason to explore what The Circle is about. Despite certain characters that were not developed well enough and a rather rushed plot, the film combined great cinematography, acting and a stimulating central idea that drove the movie onward. The final scene made me beg for a sequel and find out the fate of their, — or — is it our world?