The Circle Disappoints


Ryann McManus, Sport's Editor

Our constant advances in technology, while appearing to be beneficial on the outside, often have unintended consequences.  In particular, the collection of data has brought the issue of privacy to light.  Where should we draw the line when collecting people’s information?

The Circle, a science fiction film based on the 2013 novel by Dave Eggers, very accurately portrays society and its potential future in technology.  While I felt the movie itself was well done, the plot was lackluster and could have included a little more action and drama.

The Circle follows the life of Mae Holland (Emma Watson) and how her life is changed by the technology she interacts with at her new job working for The Circle, a technology and social media company.  Mae works her way up through the social ranks of the company, and eventually gets picked up by Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), the company’s founder, to be part of the inner circle projects.

Specifically, Mae becomes the leader of a groundbreaking project called SeeChange, where she must be completely transparent about her life.  The project involves placing tiny, hidden cameras throughout public to record every moment.  For Mae, this means she wears a live video camera constantly to document her actions throughout the day.

This part of the movie was very frightening, though perfectly portrayed, because the amount of information collected through the cameras was astonishing.  The cameras could identify people on the streets, and everything about them, traffic conditions, and weather conditions, among other things.

The potential for our society to be able to achieve this sort of intelligence is scary, but even more daunting is the fact that we would have no privacy.  I felt that I could easily relate this technology to my own life, and could see this becoming a part of our society in the near future.

As a result of Mae’s new job, her parents and family friends also get drawn into a world of constant surveillance.  When this invasion of privacy goes too far, Mae’s parents become disconnected and lose trust in Mae.

The Circle very accurately portrays how technology can be damaging in our lives.  When we become too engrossed in superficial, digital experiences, we often lose touch with those around us who we care about, which I thought was a powerful message.

However, less powerful was the conflict of the plot of the movie.  While there was a struggle for Mae in deciding what she should do to please her friends and family, while still being able to make herself happy, I thought this was a really weak conflict.

Additionally, Mae herself as a character was very weak.  She constantly gave in to the desires and pressures of others, so her actions were fairly predictable.  Also, while her decision at the end of the movie was fairly unexpected, I wanted more substance out of the resolution.

While I expected Mae to rise up against the company and its invasion of privacy, Mae just gives in and accepts this as reality.  I wanted the film to present some sort of provoking ending, when in reality, it just ended without anything dramatic happening.

More than just an interesting watch, The Circle caused me to reflect on our current society and the potential for compromised relationships and a lack of privacy.  Even though I think these points were well articulated and executed throughout the film, the ending and plot did not really impress.  If you are looking to watch something in your free time just for fun, The Circle is for you, but if you are looking for a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, you might want to pass up this film.