This Week's Review: The Circle

My current siege of bronchitis eased up enough on the April 29 weekend for me to catch one film, The Circle. It was not a bad film, but it did leave me with a sense of frustration. The film suffers from either missing scenes or poor editing.

I have not read Dave Egger’s original novel, but I assume that the film is close to the original. There is considerable suspense, but the buildup is better than the outcome.

My fears that the story would be a rehash of The Net or Artificial Intelligence were unjustified, but the basic concept is the same: large firms that collect massive amounts of personal data will always be tempted to use those data to gain power. Even if the goals are altruistic, the end result is tyranny and the loss of individuality and individual autonomy.

Tom Hanks is very good as the would-be dictator; Emma Watson is also good as the naïve young trainee who transforms into a ruthless acolyte of the Circle’s power to control people’s behavior. (There are several echoes of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 in several scenes.)

The ending seems weak and at least two subplots are not resolved. All in all, I can recommend this film only for fans of dystopian stories.