By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “The Circle”; Director: James Ponsoldt; Cast: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton; Rating: **
In today’s tech-age, where social media abounds, transparency and privacy are two sides of the same coin. The Circle is a thriller that gives an insight into a tech company and its working, to highlight these two facets of the social media culture.
The tale revolves around Mae Holland (Emma Watson) a young girl who works as a Customer Service Executive. When she is hired to work for a promising and powerful, tech and social media company – The Circle, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime.
Intrigued and enamoured with the functioning of the organisation founded by Eamon Bailey and Tom Stenton, she is further floored with the company, when they introduce their latest invention, a camera called, “See-Change”. These cameras seem like cool tools that can be implanted easily across the globe and their images can be accessed or monitored through satellites.
It’s only after a freak accident, that she is convinced that the cameras saved her life. She confesses, “You behave better when you are watched.” And, as she submits herself to the company’s line of thinking of her own volition. She is inadvertently made the poster girl for transparency.
While this ground breaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy and ethics, is lovingly conveyed as vehicles for the greater good of mankind, Mae realises that it ultimately curbs her personal freedom and affects the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity.
While the mystery behind The Circle is what holds your interest. The film’s plot is wafer thin and thus feels unexplored. While there is certainly an analogy with the present day social networking platforms, the motives or meanings in the film universe are not clearly spelt out. Furthermore, the entire plot seems abrupt and unsatisfying as the company’s motive for the invention is not plainly presented.
With an impressive cast list that includes; Emma Watson as Mae Holland, Tom Hanks as Eamon Bailey, Patton Oswalt as Tom Stenton, John Boyega as a member of The Circle and Mae’s co-worker, Karen Gillan as Annie Allerton -Mae’s friend and co-worker, Ellar Coltrane as Mercer a” Mae’s childhood friend, Bill Paxton and Glenne Headly as Mae’s parents, every performance here is note-worthy.
Overall, with fairly decent production values, the film which begins impressively at a brisk pace and a thoroughly stylish approach, by mid-section shifts from being engaging to tedious. The final act, by-the-numbers, winds up abruptly failing to deliver.