The Circle

The Circle is THE company you want to be working for. It’s a blatant stand-in for Google; the ‘The Circle’ campus and work space looks identical, comes with all the crazy perks we’ve been jealously-not-quite-believingly hearing about for years: sushi bars, yoga workshops, nap pods, etc, etc. Mae (Emma Watson) is ecstatic when she’s hired for an entry level position – the salary is generous, room and board are included, the health plan is fabulous – it’s more than any millennial has the right to expect these days. The only thing The Circle asks for in return is a complete lack of privacy.

And in fact, The Circle doesn’t just ask that of employees, but of everyone joining their network. The Circle is a platform that would link all of your online accounts. You’d have one account, one username (your own, your real one), one password that links to everything, all your aps, your bank, your email, your work, social media, etc, etc. The m-442_circle_11286fdrv1rdream come true starts to feel a little…invasive to Mae. There’s no turning off, no going off-grid. Everyone participates in everything all the time! Horray! So the dream is turning out to be a bit much, but with her father (Bill Paxton) suffering from MS, it’s extremely hard to turn down.

Most of her The Circle colleagues are drinking the kool-aid but she finds a kindred spirit in skeptical Ty (John Boyega). He’s worried about how every single piece of our lives are being accessed and stored, analyzed and monetized, by The Circle: personal data is being mined to make a few people very, very rich. And if you have any presence on the internet at all, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The Circle is a terrific book by Dave Eggers. It’s an urgently fascinating story because our reality is probably only about one and a half paces behind what’s depicted in The Circle, and that’s just what we know about. We’re creeping closer and closer every day. Unfortunately it seems that Eggers’ brilliant books are not that easily adapted into films; A Hologram for the King was also a bit of a flop and that’s too bad because there’s some really thoughtful and thought-provoking material in there that’s getting lost.

The film asks more questions than it answers. In truth, it sort of lets some of the issues it raises fall away without doing them any justice. So that’s unfortunate. I still thought the movie was compelling and watchable, and Tom Hanks is of course irreproachable. I think it’s worth your time. But the book is even more worthy of your time, and if you read it, you’ll see the changes that Hollywood makes to make a story more ‘palatable.’ But I’m pretty confident that you can handle the truth. Right?

 

 

 

This was Bill Paxton’s final film. He died before it was released; a dedication in the closing credits reads ‘For Bill.” Glenne Headley, who plays his wife, died in June. She’s got a couple more movies in post-production.

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18 thoughts on “The Circle

  1. Christopher

    It would be fascinating to watch and compare this with The Net, the 1995 Sandra Bullock film which, at the time, some of my computer geek friends derided for being “alarmist”. It probably hasn’t held up well but it’s telling that some of the same issues are coming up and that they’ve evolved to be even more complicated.

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  2. Mr. Bobinsky

    Jay, there’s also another movie called “The Circle” (2015) and it’s also kind of a psychological sci-fi. I even recognized that you’re actually writing about 2017 movie only when Emma Watson was mentioned. :)))

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  3. J.

    I’m very interested in this one. I guess it’s always difficult to create a film that lives up to the book when the book is very, very good, but sounds like they have it a good shot.

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  4. stephen1001

    I liked the casting – but I agree for sure, the book was easily superior.
    I preferred the book’s ending too, the closing line about ‘the world will not wait’ was particularly powerful!

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  5. mydangblog

    I saw it a while ago with my son and we both loved it–a lot like a certain episode of Black Mirror that I recently saw. I haven’t read the book so didn’t realize the ending was different, but as a movie, I thought it stood up well.

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