The Circle: Film Review

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Emma Watson continued to and John Boyega began taking a break from blockbuster studio productions last year in Netflix produced The Circle. The film revolves around the theme of surveillance, following a young girl, Mae (played by Emma Watson), who lands a job at international technology powerhouse “The Circle”. Her ideas gain the notice of the company chairman (played by none other than Tom Hanks), who starts her on a first-of-it’s-kind program of constant public surveillance. The results of the program are disastrous, confronting the social topic of surveillance.

I want to be as clear as I can be. I have enormous respect for everyone in this movie. I love John Boyega, I love Tom Hanks even more, and there are few people I love and respect more than Emma Watson. For that reason, I absolutely could not wait to see this this movie, to my mind it was all I could possibly want, especially as I was still kind of waiting to be enraged by the issue of public surveillance. I have, since, managed to become enraged, but not because of this movie. The film starts interestingly, but grows more and more bland as the timestamp moves forward. I don’t feel like the writers of the film were going much for engagement, it was more about the issue with them. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but as an audience member I just didn’t rise as much to the issue after the film because they didn’t give me a reason, there wasn’t much to commit to on screen. The characters don’t have an awful lot of depth to them, and at the end of the film I had a difficult time putting The Circle into a genre. It just doesn’t end up being much of anything, the bare bones story isn’t of especially high quality and they don’t give us a sense of the stakes of the conflict.

It’s about three fourths of the way through that you realize the film is one big public safety announcement about privacy. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, oftentimes I wish we had more of those, but a film isn’t the place to do it, not least of all because it’s just not as effective that way. I got a sense of the issue, but without strong emotional variation it lacked the push on me to care. You watch a film to care about the characters, and to be taken by the storyline, and this film did neither of those things. It was just a lot of… bland.

When I first saw the cast list for The Circle, I was excited as hell. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Tom Hanks film I didn’t like (that man knows how to choose a script), but even he was sub-par in this film, making for an antagonist without menace, without a scare factor. I want to reiterate my respect for everyone involved in the film, but I do hope they choose more wisely in the future. I just can’t think of a time where The Circle made me get past the mild interest part of the film, it maintained too much of a monotone for too long, and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t connect with the issue on the table. (Yes, I did just sneak a Hamilton reference)

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 56/100                                                              Aryamaan’s Score – 68/100

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