This Circle is kind of a square….
Mae Holland is a temp worker who lives in Silicon Valley. Naturally, like any other ambitious young adult, she is trying to get started with a real career. Fortunately for her, she has a friend who works for the biggest tech company in the world, the Circle. Mae’s friend is able to get her an interview with the company, leading to her getting hired. Once Mae starts here, she notices the culture of this company is a little different. Almost cultish. Openness and intra employee socializing is highly encouraged, which itself doesn’t sound too unusual. However, the degree to which this is emphasized is troubling. Mae is looked down upon if she doesn’t spend time on campus during the weekend instead of being with her parents. Eventually this leads to conflict between Mae and her friends. Frustrated, she finds her life in danger when she takes a paddleboat out into the bay one night. Thanks to the Circle’s new tech camera, SeeChange, her life is saved. This incident catches the eye of two of the company’s founders who find Mae to be remorseful and willing to be a part of a “daring” social experiment. Going fully transparent and having every moment of her life broadcast over the internet.
This almost sounds like a feature length episode of “The Black Mirror” except the Black Mirror has come out with ideas like this almost two years ago. That said, there is still merit to the concept here. The dystopian future which this movie showcases is very close to where real society already is. It paints a troubling picture of where we are headed. The Circle also asks some tough questions. Namely, is the concept of privacy antiquated? Is full transparency of everybody’s every action a legitimate solution to the stifling the ills of society?
The whole movie builds up to something interesting, yet it never really pays off. Which is disappointing. Nothing of major significance happens for much of The Circle which makes it lack tension. When something does happen, the resulting behavior of our protagonist, Mae, is confounding. We don’t really get to understand who the characters that Tom Hanks and John Boyega play really are. They’re not fleshed out enough even though they’re both really important supposedly. Yet underutilized. The performances, besides Hanks and Bill Paxson, are bland. The connection is not there leading to disinterest.
The Circle acts like the issues presented are new or innovative. However, this is a reality which society is already dealing with. People are willingly broadcasting every moment of their lives these days. The tech in The Circle is interesting though. The narrow scope of the movie, that being the perspective of Mae, hurts this movie. It would have been fascinating to have an understanding of how society feels about the forced implementation of this tech down their throats. What are their feelings towards this mega company, The Circle? The closest we get are the text bubbles of viewers of Mae’s broadcast and this is fleeting since they pop up so fast. What is the Circle’s end goal here? Does it want to control society or aid it? We don’t know because the movie ends so flatly that you might wonder what the point of everything that happened before actually was. I would say that The Circle might be worth catching if only to get you thinking about where we are as a society. But it’s an average movie at best.