“The Circle” would seem to be the perfect film to begin the summer season, since it has an all-star cast, is based on Dave Eggers’ best-selling book of the same name and has an intriguing and relevant premise. But looks can be deceiving. “The Circle,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival April 26, was not nearly as successful in its techno thriller genre as some of its similar dystopian story counterparts that have become popular over the years.
Director James Ponsoldt unfortunately made a film with some real missed opportunities. This is even more upsetting considering his previous works, like the fantastic “The End of the Tour.” Neither the star-studded cast nor the successful source material could save the awkward and slightly uncomfortable performances and dialogue as well as underwhelming editing.
“The Circle” follows Mae (Emma Watson) who struggles in her dull job while living at home with her parents, until her friend Annie (Karen Gillan) gets her a job at the infamous Circle. The Circle is a conglomerate company based in San Francisco and run by Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) that combines every technology and social media company from Google to Facebook into one system. They also happen to exploit massive amounts of user and employee information.
The company captivates Mae even though it is portrayed as sinister from the very beginning, which really takes the thrill out of this thriller. Even fellow employee Ty (John Boyega) point blank explains the deceitful nature of The Circle, yet Mae is confusingly unfazed.
Even the actors seem unconvinced with the story. All of the performances feel heavy-handed and clunky. There is a half-hearted love story between Mae and childhood friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane), which may be one of the least convincing romances or even friendships shown on screen in some time. It may be because of the awkward dialogue, but the two also appear to have little interest in each other and ultimately have no chemistry.
Both Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt, who plays the co-founder of The Circle, are unconvincing and uninteresting villains. Gillan may be the lone bright spot, offering a charming character who feels the most real of all the cast. Adding more of her story line could have lifted the movie.
The story is still an interesting concept, considering technology dominates so much of our lives, but sadly “The Circle” never lives up to its potential. There are several fun and interesting moments, like a satirical scene in which Mae is urged to participate in the company’s activities, which vaguely resembles scenes from the Owen Wilson comedy “The Internship.” However these moments do not fit the tone of the film, and take away from the little suspense that there is.
Despite being released during a time of technological advancement and privacy concerns, there was nothing redeeming about “The Circle.” A better script could have turned it into a fascinating film, but instead it’s a haphazard, incompetent, clumsy mess of a film with unfulfilled potential.
Email Sophie Bennett at [email protected].