‘The Circle’ Blu-ray Review: Watered-Down Adaptation Of Already Cliche Novel
What type of company would you get if you combined the innovation of Google and Apple, and the ubiquitous nature of social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Periscope? You would likely end up with a firm like The Circle.
In The Circle, director James Ponsoldt’s (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour) adaptation of Dave Eggers’ eponymous sci-fi/mystery novel, a young woman named Mae Holland (Emma Watson of the Harry Potter series) begins working at a California-based tech/social media company as a customer service representative and gradually moves up the professional ladder. Eventually, upon forming a close relationship with The Circle’s CEO and co-founder Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), Mae realizes the company is not everything it seems.
Much like the source material, Lionsgate’s The Circle raises questions about privacy, ethics, freedom and the overall effect technology and the online sharing of personal information holds on our lives and how it can be used to either solve world problems or destroy reputations and lives. However, the film turns out to be a very watered-down and clunky adaptation of Eggers’ novel, which is surprising as Eggers co-wrote the movie’s script with Ponsoldt.
Though the essence of the original story — an arguably trite cautionary tale — is not lost, some of the plot and dialogue come off as rushed and some characters are not nearly as developed as they are in the novel. For example, the eccentric nature of John Boyega‘s (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) character — whose name will not be revealed so as to avoid spoilers — is not as accentuated in the film as it is in the novel. Furthermore, a startling revelation about this character that does not come to light until the end of Egger’s book occurs very early on in the movie! So much for suspense. Boyega does not seem to fully display his weirdo character with much conviction.
Even Hanks plays the seemingly affable yet mysterious CEO Bailey with a Steve Jobs-esque simplicity that seems hackneyed. Of the main cast, only Miss Watson and plays Mae with great curiosity, ambition and trepidation, just as the protagonist is intended to possess, but she cannot help rescue the film’s sloppy and disjointed editing. Of the main cast, only Miss Watson and Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood) seems to portray their respective characters accurately with respect to the novel, but the film’s sloppy editing remains extremely apparent. Coltrane plays Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer, a cynical yet well-intentioned luddite. However, the relationship between Mae and Mercer is also very diluted in the film, as is Mae’s interaction with her parents (the late Bill Paxton and Glenne Headly).
Other characters from the novel are omitted entirely from the film, like another strange and socially awkward young man named Francis Garaventa whom Mae forms a close yet nerve-wracking relationship with. Instead, Francis is replaced by a female character who only has a brief and oddly-placed interaction with Mae.
The Blu-Ray and DVD special features include a four-part featurette called “No More Secrets: Completing The Circle,” about the theme of dissemination of information on the internet and in the world, a featurette called “The Future Won’t Wait: Design and Technology,” about the technology the fictional universe of The Circle introduces, and “A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton,” a featurette dedicated to the actor who plays Miss Watson’s father. Paxton (HBO’s Big Love, Titanic, Apollo 13) died of a stroke on Feb. 25.
Overall, The Circle proves that it is nothing more than an incredibly trimmed-down, hastened and disjointed adaptation of a novel that is already cliche and unoriginal in the way it deals with the themes of privacy and technology, both separately and in conjunction with each other.