Length: 110 minutes / 1.83 hours
In an ever-increasingly digital world, practically everyone online is concerned with privacy. Of course, we are willing to give up this privacy to make our lives more convenient. In The Circle (2017), the eponymous corporation is merely a stand-in for Google/Facebook/Amazon/Apple and is essentially a conglomeration of sorts of these tech companies. Of course, just like that antiquated operating system you’ve meant to update, The Circle contains a premise about five years too late. When the book this movie was based on came out, I’m sure it was thought-provoking; now it’s more a matter of “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this already.”
Part of what strikes me about this film is that several segments of it probably worked better in the book. When I’m watching characters explain “mandatory fun” I can’t help but cringe and wonder if it reads better than the performance I saw. Granted, there are segments which are better on the big screen, like The Truman Show (1998)-esque “Transparency” montage filled with the prolific and inane chatter of the internet surrounding the space around the main character. I’m also sure that plenty was cut to make the book film-length since some characters like Ty Lafitte (John Boyega) and Annie Allerton (Karen Gillan) were undeveloped at best.
When it comes right down to it, the one element of this film that I felt was the most unbelievable was the naïveté of the characters, both main and collective. So many of the “good ideas” immediately raised red flags in my head regarding privacy and cybersecurity, let alone the mere legality of them. And yet, these characters marched blindly on, filled with idealism in their semi-utopian constructs that would lead to dystopia. Don’t get me wrong, some of the ideas might have merit in our world, but the dance between the utopian and dystopian was a consequence of not thinking these concepts through to their logical conclusions.
A cautionary tale for a fate that has already happened, I give The Circle 3.0 stars out of 5.