As a journalist (of sorts) getting your hands on something that is somewhat exclusive is usually exciting, except for when it is really depressing. With no advance preview for critics; The Circle does NOT get the square as it is hands down one of the more sloppy, poorly written and terribly assembled films in the past decade as it so desperately tries to deliver high brow intelligent concepts that belly flop into a pool that simply has no water in it.
In The Circle we meet Mae (Emma Watson) is an opportunistic young go-getter who lands her dream job and the up and coming tech and social media company called “The Circle”. She and the other employees are encouraged to live their lives with complete transparency but through it all ends up uncovering a nefarious plot that won’t just affect her friends, family & loved ones but every single living person on earth and it makes her wonder that if everyone is watching, is anyone truly safe anymore?
To put it bluntly, the tightly coiled piles that my dog makes on her nightly walks make more sense and have more entertainment value then The Circle. This is a disjointed, sloppy affair that is filled with poor editing, shitty dialogue, logic gaps and bad performances all around from a surprisingly stacked ensemble that just couldn’t save this mess.
Historically I have been a big James Ponsoldt fan as his work on films like Smashed, The Spectacular Now & The End of the Road have all been nuanced and thoughtful affairs but this was just an unholy mess. Filled with clunky dialogue so many of the high minded ideals that the book’s author Dave Eggers (who also worked on the screenplay) never see the light of day as they come across as ham handed revels (We get it; the shiny, creepy complex of ‘The Circle’ is BAAAAAADDDDD) the forced exposition of it all feels like that horrible Christmas sweater that none of us ever want to get. We’re wearing this terrible nonsense all damn day, it itches like hell and we can’t get away from it.
It tries to be somewhat socially satirical as it mocks the modern propensity to be hooked into our social media while making fun of some of the modern corporate culture eccentricities…but hey look there’s Beck giving a free concert so who the hell cares. The narrative takes several ‘Oh By The Way…’ kind of jumps that are jarring and off putting while there is barely a lick of chemistry between any of the ensemble who couldn’t do a damn thing with a weak adaptation of a pretty good book and it serves as a lesson that not everything can be translated to the screen.
Emma Watson has proven even as recently as a few weeks ago in Beauty & The Beast that she can actually carry a feature but here she just waffles between an idealistic young go-getter, to corporate shill, to an idealistically naive social icon. Her character arc takes so many awkward turns that we ultimately don’t care what she does as long as she stops doing it. Tom Hanks is simply playing charismatic and guarded until he’s not and then poof the movie is over while John Boyega feels like his part was rewritten several times throughout the film as he was tonally all over the map. It’s hard to watch Bill Paxton in one of his final roles as Mae’s dad suffering from MS, Patton Oswalt actually played a more convincing villain in last year’s action-comedy Keeping Up With The Joneses then he does here and Karen Gillan’s natural Scottish accent fluctuates depending on what stage of the movie we are at.
I know I won’t get an apology from everyone involved in this one for wasting my time…and that’s fine because sometimes we all just need a paycheck, but that being said The Circle is not just broken, but it’s irreparably shattered and doesn’t deserve a single second of your time, or your hard earned money.
EDITORIAL NOTE: We were briefly running a contest to win a Run of Engagement pass to see The Circle across Canada but effectively immediately we are cancelling it. We at In The Seats love you, our readers too much to subject you to something this awful.