The Circle (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Circle</strong> (2017)

(Netflix Streaming, August 2018) There’s something really weird at play in The Circle, and I’m having a bit of trouble untangling my exact issue with it. I think that it has a lot to do with its unimaginative techno-skepticism, as it follows a young woman who starts working for a (fictional) tech giant and becomes gradually disenchanted by the disconnect between its lofty public ambitions and the less-than-positive impact it has on her life and society at large. It’s not a bad premise on which to base a film, but The Circle does itself no favours by being lazy and trite about it. There is a surprising lack of interest from the film in spelling out what exactly is so awful about the company for which our character works: it seems to rely more on common assumed notions about the evils of Facebook, Google, Apple, et al. There’s a conspiracy angle to the film that never goes farther than two senior executives saying to each other, “Oh no, we’re in trouble now!” when their emails are leaked. Paradoxically, the crutch of using viewer’s anti-tech prejudices also points at why the film feels so useless—so it simply confirms those awful suspicions about the evils of tech giants? That’s it? Nothing more? Why bother watching the film when I can just look at my favourite newspaper and read articles that go far beyond The Circle‘s freshman-level musings? Even the dumb moral at the end of the film feels badly under-thought. It doesn’t help that the film doesn’t have much in terms of energy or paranoia. Writer/director James Ponsoldt has done much better in the past. Poor dull boring featureless generic actress Emma Watson looks annoyed for ninety minutes or however long it takes to make it to the end of this ordeal. Tom Hanks seems to have fun playing the sinister CEO visionary, but there’s—again—nearly nothing of substance behind the vague menace he’s supposed to present. What a dull movie. What a hypocritical movie. What else is on?

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