The Circle Blu-ray Review: An Interesting Idea with Poor Execution

Mae Holland (Emma Watson) is a young adult searching for her way in the world. She works as a customer-service operator in a call center. Her parents, Bonnie (Glenne Headly) and Vinnie (Bill Paxton), are struggling to get by while dealing with her father’s MS. But things suddenly begin to look up for her when her good friend Annie (Karen Gillan) contacts her informing her that she pulled some strings and has signed her up for an interview with The Circle, one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Mae impresses her interviewer and immediately goes to work. It’s essentially the same type of job that she was doing before, but this one comes with all the perks that a tech giant can provide along with benefits. Shortly after she begins, she finds that not only does her job include taking phone calls and helping customers but her co-workers expect her to be an active participant of the online social media that they all belong to.

Mae finds that more and more of her free time is being gobbled up by her social-media interaction and she begins losing touch with her friends and family. This causes her to make a poor decision to steal a kayak and go out into the ocean where she almost drowns after a collison with a large boat. But lucky for her, she is caught on camera and rescued at the last moment.

The Circle CEO Eamon Bailey, (Tom Hanks) whose SeeChange cameras were responsible for recording her, decides to have a talk with her and offers a special opportunity. Mae will become the first person to go completely “transparent” by wearing a SeeChange camera on her person at all times except for her allotted three-minute bathroom breaks. At first, she enjoys her new role at the company as it brings her more prestige and medical benefits to her family. But things begin to change quickly when her parents get filmed in an awkward private moment and the guy she has a crush on has an unfortunate accident at the hands of her online followers. Seeing her world being drastically effected in a negative way, Mae must make an important decision about her future.

The film is presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9 Widescreen 2.40:1 with a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track. The video is sharp and crisp with bright colors and a clear visual display. The audio has a good surround effect to it as it immerses you into the large audience hall where a number of important scenes are performed but is not used significantly throughout.

The Blu-ray contains a DVD and Digital copy along with three special features. “No More Secrets: Completing The Circle” is a four-part discussion by the cast, producer, and director in regards to the origins of the film, intermixed with behind-the-scenes footage. “The Future Won’t Wait: Design & Technology” is a look of how the technological and social-media special effects were integrated into the overall look of the film. “A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton” is a discussion of the actor’s life by Tom Hanks and comments by director James Ponsoldt.

When I heard the amazing cast lineup for this film and the basic story of social media gone wrong, I was excited to see it, but after viewing, I learned that just because you have a good cast it’s no guarantee that you will have a good film. The blame rests squarely on the script. There is no real character development in the story, which doesn’t allow for the audience to care about any of the characters. The dialogue is stilted and feels forced, coming across as vapid and pointless. There appears to be no motivation in what Mae does. She immediately allows herself to be tracked, decides to hit on a random stranger before she even gets a look at him, steals a kayak and goes out in the middle of the night in a foggy bay, and starts spouting off ideas to the CEO of her company and making decisions without him. But she’s not the only one to make illogical decisions. The entire film is full of them.

I’m still not even sure what the point of The Circle was. There’s a mention of something bad that Bailey was doing but it’s never mentioned what that is. It should have been that he’s planting cameras everywhere, invading people’s privacy and forcing them to use his service, but nobody seems to care about any of that. I know it’s supposed to be some form of commentary on society and the dangers of social media, but I couldn’t tell you what conclusion we were expected to arrive at. And to cap it off, there’s no real ending to the film. Nothing is truly resolved. Nobody goes to jail or gets in trouble and the audience has no resolution.

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Todd Karella

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