About a fourth of the way into The Circle, my dad remarked, “This is like Brave New World.” About halfway in he spoke again: “Can we pause this long enough for me to delete my Facebook account?” Unfortunately, the movie didn’t have quite the same impact on me.
It’s hard to talk about The Circle without spoiling it but here are the basics: Mae (Emma Watson) gets a job at a tech company called The Circle. Shocker, right? The Circle creates and employs tons of technology that we could actually have in a few years, and even some we already have. Many of these advances are good. Some are bad. A few have the potential to be used for very bad things. And as the movie progresses, you get the feeling the latter concept is where things are going.
Both the story and characters of The Circle are intriguing. There are lots of references to relatable things, like technology that is simultaneously convenient and creepy. Emma Watson is really good in her role. I haven’t liked most of her movies since she rose to fame as Hermione Granger, so I was impressed.
However, the plot and structure are lacking. Instead of trying to cram in every piece of technology and possible plot point, the writers should have stuck with one or two concepts to flesh out. There were many elements and characters I wanted to see more of.
A good dystopian society should be one of two things: Horrible but seemingly impossible for the characters to escape, or extremely appealing. In the latter scenario, the audience (and characters) peel back layers and gradually realize the awful truth. The Circle falls into the latter category, but doesn’t quite peel back those layers effectively. Some things would have been better introduced at different times in the narrative for more suspense.
Overall, The Circle isn’t terrible, but does have structural problems that keep it from standing out. It’s probably good for a Saturday afternoon when you want to pop in a DVD, but ultimately not that memorable.