A young woman begins working at a social media/tech corporation, and begins making choices that not only effect her, but her friends, family, and society at large.
Rated PG-13, for a sexual situation, brief strong language and some thematic elements including drug use.
Viewer Appeal: Teens; Adults
How many social media accounts do you have? Twitter? Facebook? Snapchat? Pinterist? Instagram? What if you could put them all into one site, where everyone was connected? Well, then you would be part of The Circle.
Mae (Emma Watson) is a young woman trying to start her life. She drives a crappy car, lives with her parents, and works as a temp at the water company. So when her bestie, Annie (Karen Gillen), calls to let her know Mae has an interview at The Circle, Mae is ecstatic. Working for The Circle isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle. The compound not only offers yoga, a trampoline, and a nightclub, but dormitories as well. I mean, who really wants to leave work when it's so fun? And it is fun, filled with 20-somethings who aren't tied to anything and have the energy to party every night.
Mae's excitement turns quizzical when she's approached by two people who offer to set up her social account, emphasizing the importance of connection and community. Not only is Mae required to send all of her customers a questionnaire grading her performance, but she's also rated by how active she is in The Circle community...attending parties and weekend activities. Having time to kayak alone is looked upon as anti-social behavior. Why be alone when you can be with someone? Additionally, they seem to know all about her life: her father's (Bill Paxton) MS and her childhood friend, Mercer (Ellar Coltrane).
It's not long though, before Mae is caught in the web of The Circle. She moves onto the campus, and doesn't go home to see her parents. One night she happens to meet Ty (John Boyega), who she learns created one of The Circle's biggest products, and has since disappeared. While he spends time at The Circle, he's not a fan, and encourages Mae not to drink the Kool-aid. And she remains skeptical, until one night when she goes kayaking alone in the San Francisco Bay and the fog rolls in. Fearing for her life, Mae is in a panic until the Coast Guard shows up. A police officer had seen her on one of the millions of cameras The Circle has placed around the world, essentially spying on people. That camera saved her life.
Because of this incident, Mae is called into Eamon Bailey's (Tom Hanks) office, the founder of The Circle. He convinces her to be an example and “go transparent.” Basically, she will wear a camera at all times, leaving no room for privacy or secrecy, because, as Mae now says, “Secrets are Lies.”
This movie is really more horror than drama. It leaves such a bad taste in your mouth and dread in your heart. The circumstances Mae finds herself in become more and more disturbing as she loses more and more of herself to the sickness of The Circle. It's such an apt commentary on our times. How many times have you posted what you ate for dinner or what movie you were going to see on Facebook? Or watched a reality t.v. show where cameras catch every move of the “stars.” Society loves that stuff, yet without even batting an eye we've each given away pieces of our privacy via our cell phone carrier and apps that collect our data or turn cell phone cameras into little spying machines.
Social commentary aside, The Circle is just not a great movie. Much of the acting is just not what you'd expect from a movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. Her character is simply not likable throughout the movie, and Tom Hanks Eamon Bailey is just plain angering. The story is depressing with a disappointing ending (although I've heard it's better than the ending in the book). This is one to skip. Marvel fans, you might want to go see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 instead.
Let's Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• What surprised you the most about the choices Mae made?
• How has technology changed our society? For better? For worse?
• What do you think of Mae's mantra, “Secrets are Lies?”
All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.