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Film / The Circle (2017)

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A 2017 techno-thriller directed by James Ponsoldt and adapted from Dave Eggers' novel of the same name.

The film boasts an All-Star Cast including Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, Karen Gillan, and (in his final film) Bill Paxton.


The Circle provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The ending ends on somewhat of a better note in than the novel, where Mae doesn't betray Ty instead of betraying him.
  • Author Tract: The story is basically a framing device for social commentary on technology and social media.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Tom and Eamon share the title of Big Bad.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Mae can't even talk about her misgivings without being "spied" on by people filming themselves and her using The Circle's smartphones and tablets, plus any other cameras and microphones that use Circle tech.
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  • Career Versus Man: What seems to be Mae's dilemma; the more she gets involved with The Circle conflicts with her relationship with her friendly coworker, John Boyega's character. There's also her friendship with Mercer, which suffers as she continues to work for The Circle, mostly because he gets wrongful abuse for some of his sculptures, to the point where he wants nothing to do with her and being harassed by people using the Soul Search application directly contributes to his death.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Circle has all sorts of perks, such as great pay, excellent accommodation, social events, clubs, and support groups throughout the company, a company medical plan that can be extended to family members, and charismatic company directors. It also seeks to harvest every bit of data from everyone, manipulate governments and political affairs, place surveillance everywhere, and work its employees beyond the point of exhaustion. It's particularly disturbing when some of the more morally questionable products and services being promoted by The Circle are greeted with standing ovations.
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  • Cyberpunk: The film has elements of this, despite being ostensibly set in the present day; The titular circle is a Mega-Corp with aspirations of manipulating elections, has a hand in the impeachment of a sitting senator, and whose goal is essentially the surveillance of everybody. Technically, the monitor watches worn by Circle employees could be considered cybernetics, as some of them are even fitted with tracking chips inside their bodies that work in conjunction with it. Fittingly, the film's soundtrack sounds very much like a cyberpunk-style synthesizer.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The hounding of Mercer by relentless Circle members and drones leading to his death is basically the social media version of Princess Diana of Wales' death by paparazzi hounds in 1997.
  • Frame-Up: It is implied the Circle framed a Senator investigating the Circle in order to disgrace her.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Referenced. One of the popup comments that appear around Mae references this trope and someone else replies "I love that cartoon!"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mae manages to force Eamon and Tom to reveal their personal information during their own meeting to promote themselves.
  • Hypocrite: Eamon says all knowledge must be shared, secrets are lies, and even people's entire lives should become transparent. Meanwhile, he keeps lots of knowledge secret himself. Mae exposes him publicly near the end.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: At the final presentation, the lights go out after one of the Big Bads leave the stage, hiding the protagonist. It's a Subverted Trope. She lives.
  • Ludd Was Right: This is a major theme of this film.
  • Mega-Corp: The Circle is a combination of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber, all ramped Up to Eleven with an ambition towards directly influencing political and law enforcement matters.
  • Never Suicide: After Mercer is accidentally killed, the executives discuss mental health, suggesting that Mercer killed himself, in order to save face.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Circle's logo looks like a red, backwards Uber symbol, Tom Hanks' character is as charming as Steve Jobs, its ring-like campus looks like Apple's, and its pleasant but intense work environment and internet reach is similar to Google.
  • Oh, Crap!: Eamon near the end of the film when he is "volunteered" to make his life totally transparent by his employee Mae by wearing a camera on him at all times. All he could manage to do is fake a smile throughout the whole presentation.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Emma Watson's character frequently slips into the actress' native British accent.
  • She's Got Legs: Mae has trouble keeping up with Annie because her legs are so long.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer includes the drone attack on Mercer.
  • The Un Reveal: The ultimate goal of Eamon and Tom is never revealed.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mae at the beginning of the movie. And apparently at the end as well, though the Ambiguous Ending makes it unclear whether or not she's faking it.

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