‘The Circle’ received it’s cinematic release in the US back in April, debuting to a barrage of negative reviews. However, if these reviews are to be believed, citizens of the UK are lucky enough to be disappointed by the film in the comfort of their own homes thanks to it’s Netflix release. The film follows Emma Watson’s character, Mae, in her new job at a leading tech company; The Circle. With all the makings of an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ this techno thriller certainly had potential but will it be received any better on this side of the pond?
The film clearly attracted quite an impressive cast, with huge stars popping up in scene after scene. Watson is good in the leading role often reflecting the feelings of the audience. Her performance is effective in charting the progression & development of her character within her new workplace. Her on screen bosses, Tom Hanks & Patton Oswalt are similarly effective. Hanks is especially believable as the charismatic co-founder of the company and is particularly entertaining to watch. However, at this stage in his career I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine Hanks in any kind of role, he’s able to sell whatever his character requires of him no matter what it is. Karen Gillan also stars, playing Watson’s best friend and high ranking employee at The Circle. I really enjoyed her performance and found her character to have one of the most realistic arcs. Bill Paxton, John Boyega & Ellar Coltrane all also appear. Paxton & Boyega both contribute well in their relatively small roles but I though Coltrane struggled with the more dramatic requirements of his role. Overall though I was impressed & entertained by the largely well known cast and their work here.
The narrative of the film builds very well up until a certain point. It has so many ideas to play around with. Some are quite overwhelming, some make real sense whilst others just seem a little insane. The film certainly strikes fear into the viewers about technology and just how quickly it’s advancing. It’s crazy because this kind of story doesn’t feel like it’s years away in the real world, the reality is it seems like it could be just around the corner. The writing nailed a lot of elements already present in today’s society and for that it definitely deserves praise. So for the most part the narrative really worked for me, but as I mentioned only up to a point. After this things do become rather ridiculous. The constant new inventions from the fictitious company overcrowds the film and makes it harder to engage with as the story progresses. Simplicity may have been the key to making a more coherent film. Although the way the narrative descends into this over the top drama does highlight the absurdity of how extreme technology is becoming. Nonetheless, I don’t think this is made clear enough to interpret it this way.
However, thanks to it’s new home at Netflix ‘The Circle’ is far from a waste of time. It’s constantly entertaining thanks to it’s big named cast. The narrative is interesting and engaging for the most part. Unfortunately it inflicts some damage upon itself in the final act which does undo some of the more solid work that came before this. Despite this, it still manages to be a thought provoking piece on privacy, technology & communication.
Rating – 7/10
Question: What is your favourite techno thriller?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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