The Circle movie cast: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Ellar Coltrane, Karen Gillan
The Circle movie director: James Ponsoldt
The Circle movie rating: 2 stars
It’s disappointing how spot on and ironic The Circle is when concentrating on its central theme of the role of ever-expanding technology in our lives, and how bad when focusing on the lives themselves. And we are not even talking many lives here, but Mae (Emma Watson), her parents and a friend, Mercer, played by the much-missed Coltrane from Boyhood.
They all find themselves in The Circle after Mae, worried about her ailing father (the late Paxton), grabs at the chance to work in “the best company in the world”. The Circle is an Apple/Google/Silicon Valley hotshot firm that ties its employees down to the workplace while throwing around words like community, family, and events like after-hour parties and day-time exercises such as ‘Dogas (dogs and yoga)’. Anybody can be stunned into amazement, as Mae is, at this self-contained world, though as a history student (she points that out, herself) she should know better when The Circle’s cardigan plus sneakers-clad boss Bailey (yes, a Steve Jobs-ish Tom Hanks) starts selling his firm’s growing surveillance tools as aiding the cause of democracy and openness. And selling the same in catchy, rhyming slogans.
In a particularly effective scene, two HR-type personnel descend on Mae after a weekend and, over a long pitch involving a lot of numbers, convince her how she is missing out on a lot of activities, “entirely voluntary”, on The Circle campus.
In a departure, The Circle’s dramatic premise rests on Mae seeing through it, and yet not seeing through it, rather than one climactic clash. However, since we are not significantly invested in any of the real people here, it is simply not disturbing enough for us to care.