Reviews: The Circle 2017

Shallow film, bland characters, uninvested plot.

Walking into the film, I expected a standard tech-centric mystery/thriller with a social commentary about privacy in the digital age.

What I got was a bland, unfocused film that failed to make me care about the plot, characters, technology, or even the social implication.


Main Character

Central to this plate full of bland is our main character, Mae Holland (Emma Watson). Mae is a new employee at "The Circle", a Google/facebook analogue. She tries to fit into the company culture, juggles with caring for her father with MS, and discovers startling implications of invasive technology.

There's only one problem, I DON'T CARE ABOUT HER!

There was little-to-no character development during the first act. She has no motivations, no goals, no fears, and worst of all, no personality. The job interview scene only pays lip service to characterization. There are only brief flashes of a personality throughout the film, but they quickly pass. Her reactions to issues, both good and bad, are uninterested.

Using a cardboard cutout would have been an improvement.


Side Characters

But surely, a boring main character can be balanced with good side characters. Not here. Our bland main course is served with a side of bland.

Hanks and Oswalt star as the CEO and COO of the company, and gave a replaceable performance. Yet for such veteran faces, they gave no spark to the characters. Mae's parents exist only as footnotes in her life. Her friends and coworkers occasionally show a flash of personality, yet they're never the focus.


Plot

The plot can't make up it's mind what direction it's going to take, what style it's going to use, or what message it's trying to convey. These change on a scene-by-scene basis. Is privacy good? Bad? Necessary? Selfish? I'm not asking for morals simple enough for tots, but there should be some basic consistency.


Summary

Overall, the film tried to convey a relevant social message, yet flopped in execution, characters, and plot. There needs to be some audience connection for any film to work, especially if there's a moral they're trying to share. But without that critical empathy, I don't care about what happens to the characters, what the characters do, or most of all, what the characters feel and learn. It falls flat.

This was one of the few films that I regret spending my money to see. It was so uninteresting and made no lasting impact.
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