'The Circle' review: Monotonous and hardly unique
The first thing that comes to mind upon seeing James Ponsoldt’s The Circle is that everything in it feels so familiar.
Overblown and overindulgent
It isn’t just because the film, adapted from a Dave Eggers novel of the same title, borrows heavily from the technology-addicted, purpose-hungry, and morally obfuscated world we live in. It is because of something less notable. The Circle is nothing more than an overblown and overindulgent allegorical satire, whose bite has been mellowed by its own needless seriousness.
This has all been done before.
Sketches that aptly exaggerate the world’s preoccupation with social media have peppered late night television. YouTube is also littered with similarly themed skits and shorts.
On a more accomplished level, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has specific episodes that intelligently focus on aspects of our shared humanity that are being affected by our overreliance on technology. "Nosedive" (2016), the Joe Wright-directed opener to the television series’ 3rd season, is memorable in its equally nightmarish and humorous reimagining of a world where social networks and its simplistic tools and algorithms lord over most human affairs.
Bogged down storyline
However, the lack of uniqueness isn’t The Circle’s biggest problem. What bogs it down is its own adoration of how its fictional setting mirrors our own.
The film spends too much time defining its world, making its rules, and pinpointing what social ill it wants to criticize that it neglects to tell a credible story. The film manages to create a concrete character only out of the ravenous corporation that seeks to take control of the word. Everyone else, even Mae, the Circle employee played by Emma Watson, is reduced to predictable stereotypes. ( WATCH: Emma Watson uncovers secret of 'The Circle' in new clip)
The film documents Mae’s experiences within the dubious conglomerate, from being an excited beginner to someone who becomes suspicious of the company’s eagerness to envelope society with its technological conveniences. Unfortunately, Ponsoldt slogs through expositions and then expedites narrative twists and turns. The result is a film that never really achieves the climax that an ambitious cautionary tale like this deserves.
Mundane and monotonous
The Circle feels a tad too mundane and monotonous for its desired scope.
Thankfully, there are some good points. Tom Hanks makes use of his onscreen charisma and gravitas to grant his portrayal of Circle CEO Bailey an air of genial influence, which is not unlike that of a lot of today’s inspirational leaders.
Sadly, the film does not really know if it finds its musings about the world’s possible future funny or scary. The Circle starves for authentic humor to make that impact it yearns for, yet it only offers stagnant and dull drama, and it ends up too self-righteous to really make a dent. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.