Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Circle

Movie Name: The Circle
Year of Release: 2017
Director: James Ponsoldt
Stars: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly, Bill Paxton, Ellar Coltrane, Nate Corddry, John Boyega, Amir Talai, Ellen Wong, Beck
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
View Trailer

Director James Ponsoldt continues his string of interesting projects/features, with the adaptation of Dave Eggers book, "The Circle". The film focuses on the story of young Mae, who lives in a suburb of the Silicon Valley area, working an aimless job, who suddenly finds herself being interviewed for a job with one of the hottest tech companies in the area. Mae aces the interview, starts her new position, and progressively gets a better understanding of how "The Circle" operates across multiple people's lives, including her own and the one of her friends and family (including her parents, who get dragged to the network, even when her father is dealing with some serious health issues which they prefer to keep private). "The Circle" is governed by the charismatic Bailey, who comes in contact with Mae, through some unexpected circumstances. This turn of events makes Mae an instantly recognizable character within the company, and within the social network, something that keeps evolving, as the Circle's plans also keep expanding ever more.
So far James Ponsoldt's films have been ever more successful, the more they are focused on characters that are trying to find their place in the world. They are typically young adults, that are establishing or figuring out their own path, and finding that adulthood is perpetually tangled in familial relationships that define or influence those paths. "The Circle" has some of those traits, and it's interesting to observe Mae's interactions in the world, both personal and professional, particularly as she tries to achieve something for herself, and help her parents in the process. However the film introduces a concept, somewhat similar to Irwin Winkler's "The Net" (1995, before the dot com), where the young heroine is working for a company that has sinister motives to everything they do. Obviously "The Circle" tries to be a jab at Facebook, and how privacy is slowly eroding from people's lives, however the film ends up having these two facets that never really marry successfully. On one hand, you have the story of young Mae trying to find her bearing in the world, and on the other there's a somewhat tech thriller looming, and these two never gel solidly. Emma Watson is always a compelling presence, as is Tom Hanks, however the material just isn't as interesting as it could be. It's not sufficiently "Three Days of the Condor", and it's definitely not as intimate and heartfelt as "The Spectacular Now". Here's hoping the director's next feature is a more interesting one.