Mae Holland floating through life finds her identity with a pioneering tech company ‘The Circle’ but is the new age of modern social media as ethical as it should be?
The Circle is an ultimately stylish tech thriller with themes of privacy, community and public v personal good. It makes the argument both for and against the continuing growth of these tech companies and how increasingly unchecked they’ve become. Proposing several of these questions to its audience in a short space of time nothing really feels answered towards the end with the story itself not being as important as the wider thematic tones it attempts to convey.
The good bits
The Circle is not so subtly drawing a lot of its inspiration from Google with its state of the art campus feel and sleek production, you immediately get the sense it’s a millennial playground that few want to leave. However, after a while, this grown-up Disneyland becomes creepier and more suffocating.
Emma Watson holds her own as Mae Holland, her sincerity becomes the driving force of the film as we watch her march herself further and further down the rabbit hole of this tech company.
And Tom Hanks perfectly fits the role of Bailey, the affable CEO who enjoys surfing and just wants do all of this surveillance for his son in a wheelchair.
The not-so-good bits
Storylines with Mae’s parents, the inner workings of the social networking system, what they were doing with the senator and whatever is going on with her friend Annie. If you’re going to look at the inner workings of what tech and social media means then I wish they’d either picked a lane and explored the complexities of one-way tech (such as the voting thing) or highlighted the different ways it affects people on social media.
I think the main tragedy of the film is that it didn’t come earlier, the 2013 novel The Circle was based on was hailed as a triumph but four years later and with snapchat glasses and people saying they have a right to the consumption of celebrities private photographs the concept of a full transparency doesn’t seem as exciting as the film thinks it is.
One of my main gripes with this movie is how criminally underused John Boyega and his character were throughout this movie. Ty was allegedly the man behind the curtain who put together this website but hated the way Bailey and the investors were manipulating its intentions yet we didn’t see his story culminate or develop in any sort of satisfying way.
All in all, it felt like I was watching the origin story to a more complex dystopian thriller about overthrowing The Circle and Mae as the CEO, without that it feels like a meandering Aesop’s tale for the 21st century.