CAST: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt
DIRECTION: James Ponsoldt
DURATION: 1 hour 50 minutes
STORY: Mae joins The Circle (a social media giant) as a low-level employee. A small act of rebellion catapults her up the corporate ladder and she soon finds herself in the driver’s seat, navigating the company’s biggest, riskiest plans.
REVIEW: Privacy in the Internet Age will soon be a sub-genre of thrillers. And as necessary as this conversation is, we’ve witnessed it onscreen before.
From David Fincher’s morally ambiguous The Social Network to the recent Emma Roberts thriller, Nerve and from a slew of Facebook-themed horror movies (the if-you-unfriend-me-my-ghost-will-kill-you kind) to the HBO show Silicon Valley, we’re now familiar with the shady functioning of evil tech-billionaires and other disadvantages of going down the slippery slope of social networks.
The Circle simply parrots these threats. It revolves around Mae (Emma Watson), the newest employee of The Circle, a one-stop shop that has overtaken all other social networks. Its bosses, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) and Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt), have a unique vision for its future, and soon, Mae finds herself strapping on a camera and participating in their scheme to achieve “complete transparency.”
The movie quickly turns into an all-star episode of Big Brother (Bigg Boss) and we see Mae sharing her life with the world. As she rises to Internet prominence, she starts losing hold of reality.
That Mae will come to her senses and take her bosses down is as painfully obvious as the Facebook logo is blue. But the movie works purely as a cheap-thrills thriller in a lot of places where you just want to follow Mae and see her turning into an evil version of herself. A particularly interesting sequence has her colleagues giving her grief for not being on the social network, and it is at once familiar and sad. We’ve all joined the Snapchat we don’t understand and logged on to the Twitter we don’t have the vocabulary for due to peer pressure.
Watson struggles with her grey character but is mostly believable; Hanks is smooth as a scheming social media mogul. Both actors try to infuse some humour and work with what they have.
The Circle has the makings of a great thriller but just isn't well-rounded enough to leave a mark.
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