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When asked in a job interview what is her biggest fear, Mae (Emma Watson) replies: “Unfulfilled potential”. That is exactly the problem with The Circle, the movie in which this scene is inserted and that had a terrible opening weekend at the box office in the U.S. The trailer showed some potential, but the actual film did not live up to the expectations, mainly due to a weak script and underused cast.
Mae hates her job in a cubicle and applies for a “Costumer Experience” job at The Circle, a giant technology company headed by Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks). The organization has many perks on campus, such as Google, so the employees don’t really need to leave the premises. The Circle, however, takes it to a whole new level, basically politely forcing employees to participate in extracurricular activities and share them in the internal social media platform.
At first, Mae is a bit reluctant to the idea of sharing everything and seeing what everybody was doing. She even reacts negatively when a Congresswoman decides to go “transparent” and wear a portable camera that would stream live every second of her day. It’s a bit “too much”, Mae reflects. Having said that, after one incident at night, when she was rowing by herself and saved because a camera was filming her, she changes completely her behavior and becomes the face of The Circle, even going “transparent” herself.
The film raises interesting questions about privacy, boundaries, and social media, especially about this modern “need” to know what everybody is doing at all times. It even gets a bit chaotic at times, showing just how far people’s curiosity can go. However, it feels like the film wanted to force a dramatic situation to a point that it is not that interesting and involving anymore.
Emma Watson doesn’t give her best performance and her lines don’t help her case either. Tom Hanks and John Boyega appear so little in the film that the audience is left wondering why they were there at all. Apparently in the book their characters had more significant roles, especially Boyega’s, but it was not translated to the screen.
In short, The Circle is one of those films worth waiting for it to be available on a streaming service rather than spending time and money at the movies.