The Circle had pretty bad reviews back when it came out in 2017, so I never watched it. But it’s been hard to find new material lately. I thought, “It has Tom Hanks. Emma Watson is the lead. How bad could it be?” I gave it a shot. It wasn’t great. My version of the not great parts isn’t exactly what the critics were complaining about when it first released.
The Circle is about a tech giant a lot like a combined Apple and Google. They wanted all the data about everyone and everything. Each new innovation was a further invasion of people’s privacy until there was literally nothing the company didn’t know, see, and broadcast.
Mae (Emma Watson) was excited when her friend Annie (Karen Gillan) got her an interview with The Circle. She was hired in a customer service kind of job.
Mae drank the Kool Aid 100%. She never questioned what the company wanted. She thought up even more invasive things for the company to do to people.
When company head Bailey (Tom Hanks) and his #1 minion Stenton (Patton Oswalt) noticed Mae and realized she was gung ho behind the company line, they made her life fully transparent every minute of the day and night. Millions of people all over the world watched her every move.
Mae betrayed her lifelong friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane) by exposing a life he didn’t want to share with the world. She betrayed her mom (Glenne Headly) and her dad (Bill Paxton) in the same way.
The thing that really bothered me about the movie was Mae. She didn’t understand how she was hurting people or invading their privacy. When she finally realized something wasn’t right, the film didn’t show her transformation or growth in any sensible way. It only showed how she enlisted the help of another Circle employee, Ty (John Boyega), to expose the top brass and their actual goals.
There was no character development for any of the characters. There was no discussion about the right to privacy vs. giving every bit of your life to a tech company. It was lacking any investment in people. It was the coldness of the film combined with the assumption that nobody would have any objections to living a completely transparent life that gave me the bad vibes about it.
The Circle wasn’t terrible. It simply wasn’t great, and it could have been. With the cast it had and the topic of privacy in the internet age, it should have been better. It’s still on Netflix if you want to take a look. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it if you’ve seen it.