The Circle is written and directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, Smashed) and tells the story of a young woman who gets a job at a high tech company, similar to Facebook and Google, and becomes entangled in the corporate drama as the company finds itself on the cusp breaching privacy laws.
This film is able to take a decent story and decent actors, and drain all the life out of it. Emma Watson, who plays our lead character, Mae, falls completely short of great acting. Watson has been nothing to write home about throughout her career, but I still hope that one day she will impress me. I feel no sympathy for Mae, as her life becomes the center of a big project that focuses on her becoming completely transparent and living her life (24/7) on camera. The events that spur from this new project aren’t thrilling enough to save this film. Yes, relationships are severed and someone might get hurt, but The Circle lacks the thrilling factor that it so desperately marketed itself to be.
The film starts dull, continues to be dull, has a glimmer of hope, but then ends dull. For me, the supporting actors were the biggest letdown. Simply put, they didn’t jell together. Okay, look at Ellar Coltrane who play’s Mae’s friend, Mercer. Coltrane, who is best known for his role in Boyhood, continues to act like he is still that character in Boyhood. He acts as though he is reading his lines straight from the page. There is no emotion whatsoever. What I mean by him acting like his character in Boyhood is that Coltrane’s real life personality worked for this young man who was reclusive and not very sociable, but you’re still able to relate to his character. In The Circle, there were parts where Coltrane needed to be open and angry, and I didn’t feel what he was feeling. His emotions were not conveyed through the audience. And of course John Boyega, whose character could have added a whole other piece of storyline. But once again, either the script or direction was misguided. Boyega never got the opportunity to showcase his acting skills. As I sat down to watch this film, I could tell that there were people in the theatre who just wanted to see Tom Hanks. Don’t be fooled, fellow Hank fans. His character is sporadically seen throughout the movie for, I’d say, maybe 15 minutes total. But sadly, like so many other characters in the film, his portrayal falls flat.
The Circle lacks any type of thrill or drama. The film is boring and borders on the point of worthless. It was a great concept, and having not read the book, I cannot truly tell if it was the script, the direction, or the overall story. Maybe with a script rewrite and a better director, The Circle could have been this “provocative thriller” that “so many” critics were talking about. Yes, the critics were talking, but it was nothing good.
Written & Directed By: James Ponsoldt
Starring: Emma Watson, John Boyega, Ellar Coltrane, Karen Gillan, and Tom Hanks