Film Review: The Circle

Looks as if there’s two underwhelming films starring Emma Watson in 2017, with the other being the live action adaptation of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” with “The Circle.” “The Circle” features other famous actors such as Tom Hanks and the late Bill Paxton while also casting some newer faces in film including John Boyega and Ellar Coltrane.

Mae Holland (Watson) works in a typical office environment and lives a normal life with her parents, whose father is suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Mae’s friend, Annie (Karen Gillan), lands her an interview for a potential job at the popular corporation, The Circle. She gets the job and learns more about The Circle and the way it operates, including finding out about its founders, Eamon Bailey (Hanks) and Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt).

As the plot progresses, the film tackles issues concerning personal privacy and surveillance that challenges the characters’ sense of free will.

This film’s greatest strength is the character of Eamon Bailey played by Tom Hanks. He’s seen as the film’s antagonist with his obsessive need to have everything monitored, although setting up that aspect of him is horrible. Hanks plays him to where that isn’t completely obvious from the beginning. Bailey shows concern about The Circle and the community within it that he will do whatever it takes for the company to succeed.

There’s no denying how big of a powerhouse of an actor Hanks is from looking at his impressive resume of film roles he’s had since the late 80s, and this can go down as another solid performance. Hanks is really good at playing the charismatic guy that cares for those around him and that’s exactly what Eamon Bailey is displayed as. If there’s any reason to go see this film, it’s because of him.

The concept alone of “The Circle” is also fascinating. It’s always interesting to watch a film that goes into a topic such as one’s own privacy and how far they’ll go to ensure the safety of others. Viewers get to see both sides of the spectrum, which is always admirable when films do that. If only the rest of the film was as engaging.

The biggest criticism of “The Circle” is the way the story is told, which is very choppy and rather confusing thanks to its weak editing and script. The first 15 minutes of the film until we see Hanks are absolutely terrible. Scenes happen so fast and are edited so weirdly that we don’t really get a feel for Mae or anything going on in her life. And there’s a lot of moments when scenes just happen without viewers getting the chance to really throw themselves into the story.

How the plot moves forward is also jumpy in its method of telling the story. A lot of the characters are shown briefly and are thrown in every now and then just for the audience to remember that they’re still in it. Some of them don’t even feel like they serve a real function to the overall story, particularly Coltrane’s character. And this has to come from the unpolished screenplay that also helps complicate the plot.

There’s also moment when characters go with what others are saying without question, making it hard to take them seriously for how absurd some of the concepts being brought up are and that they’re buying into it.

As for the performances, they’re fine, but essentially all of them could’ve been played by someone else so it’s confusing to figure out why they needed to get such talented actors. There was an actress, though, with an extremely bad Scottish accent.

Emma Watson, by no means a bad actress, has been presenting herself as the actor that’s trying to push her career forward, but never does. Sure, she can cry on cue, but that doesn’t make her performances any less forgettable. In both this and “Beauty and the Beast” she plays the characters so bland and one dimensional. Maybe it was a good thing that she turned down the role of Mia in “La La Land” if that meant her turning in a boring performance.

In the end, “The Circle” could’ve been a much more entertaining film with its intriguing concept. It had a very talented cast to help back it up, and looked nice visually, but the clumsy script didn’t give anything for them to chew on (although Tom Hanks can take any role and make it marvelous) and the editing was so horrendous.

This is certainly a misshapen circle.