The Circle is a 2017 thriller film directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers, based on Eggers’ 2013 novel of the same name. The film stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega.
Mae Holland lands an entry level position at the largest tech company in the world, The Circle, but soons finds herself working on some of the most privacy intrusive technology ever devised.
I always feel guilty for ogling at car wrecks on the side of the road, but we all know that we humans tend to be drawn to disasters. That little bit of mayhem and chaos that seems to feel satisfying at almost a deep, primal level. So when I turned to my girlfriend 30 minutes into The Circle just to remark how much of a train wreck this film is, we both knew we had to see this through to the end. And much like a freeway pileup, It’s kind of amazing how this disaster just stretches on and on.
The Circle is a flawed film in many different ways, it’s funny where it shouldn’t be, has shoddy visuals, and has acting performances that felt completely phoned in. But Ignoring all that, this movie has a fundamentally flawed script and terrible editing. If contrived character motivation, poorly written characters, and being built on a foundation of conflicting morals wasn’t the nail in the coffin for this film, broken continuity and random jump cuts destroys this film.
It’s really difficult to write good dialogue. Even in some of the best films, characters can come off as a bit stilted or over expository. But The Circle’s dialogue was so unnatural and so overly preachy, I’m still not even sure if this was intentional or not. Characters seemed to only communicate to each other in plot dumps or irrelevant quirky banter. There is no subtlety, and no natural rapport being built between the characters during the film. It’s like watching robots come on screen, regurgitate their lines, then walk off once the job is done. Some of the most important characters in this film get no time to build relationships and grow, but instead serve to be nothing more than plot to move the film along.
The poor writing doesn’t just end at the characters, no, it runs deep in this film’s screenplay. The trailer portrays The Circle to be a high concept piece about the dangers of one corporation having too much information on its users. There was so much potential for effective social commentary about the dangers of losing one’s privacy to a single mega corporation. Instead, I walked away from that film with absolutely no idea whether the writer believed a lack of privacy was a good or bad thing. It’s one thing to have a stance I don’t agree with, it’s another to have no stance on the issue your film was based around. At no point do we get the payoff of reaching some epiphany on what the writer of trying to convey. I walked out asking myself what the point of the movie even was.
I wish I could stop bad mouthing this movie here, but even the physical act of watching the film itself was a chore. Dozens of times throughout the film the editing breaks basic continuity. Scenes change with no warning, and the positions of the characters would change seemingly at random. This film’s over use of the jump cut was also very jarring. Multiple camera angles and cuts for something as simple as a character speaking felt jarring and unnatural. This films only saving grace is it might be an interesting study on bad editing, but unless that sounds interesting to you, move along and ignore this train wreck. PG 13 1