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Movie Review: "The Circle"

Updated on May 16, 2017


Mae (Emma Watson) is a struggling young woman. She works as a customer service representative for a water company that basically means she's on the phone all day with angry customers, making next to nothing and, worst of all, not fulfilling her potential. She gets a call from her best friend, named Annie (Karen Gillan), who works for an innovative social media juggernaut called The Circle. Annie gets Mae a job at the company and Mae sees the opportunity as a huge stepping stone for her future, whatever that may be. In a company meeting, CEO Bailey (Tom Hanks) reveals a new product that The Circle has been working on. This product, is a tiny high quality camera that can be discreetly placed. It was created for the purpose of eliminating privacy from politicians and world leaders but, in order to test the product, Mae finds herself as one of the first people to go "transparent". From when she wakes up, to when she goes to bed, Mae's every word, action and interaction will be recorded and broadcast on The Circle. Is this technology good or bad and what does it mean for things like privacy and liability as we know them?

Official Trailer

The Pros and Cons

The Pros
The Cons
Both Sides (+10pts)
John Boyega (-5pts)
Emma Watson (+6pts)
Karen Gillan (-4pts)
Tom Hanks & Patton Oswalt (+5pts)
The Ending (-3pts)
All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

Pro - Both Sides (+10pts)

This movie presents a revolutionary piece of surveillance technology that is integrated into a social media giant. I thought this movie did an excellent job of weighing both sides of what this technology would mean to the general population. It shows this technology giving huge benefits and saving lives, but it also shows how the technology can put lives at risk. The movie shows how this technology can connect people and improve quality of life, but it also shows areas in which this technology can diminish quality of life. I really got the impression that the writers cared about making sure both positives and negatives were accurately and fairly depicted in this movie. His movie challenges its audience by giving viewers an interesting debate within themselves. Would you be for or against the implementation of this technology and software? It is a compelling question that you will ask yourself throughout this movie, and you just might find your opinion changing back and forth as the movie progresses.


Con - John Boyega (-5pts)

My problem has nothing to do with the actor himself but, rather, how little we see of this character. I do not want to give away who this character is, but what I will say is that his backstory is very important to the plot of this movie. Unfortunately, this movie gives hardly any focus to developing this character. This is a shame because it is a rather interesting storyline that could have been added to this movie and it would have been compelling to watch the contrast between John Boyega and Tom Hanks' characters while Emma Watson's character was caught between the two. I think I that is an element that this movie could have benefited from.


Pro - Emma Watson (+6pts)

While I do not think there was any one scene in which Emma Watson blew me away with her performance, this movie needed a talented actress in the lead role. As I said before, this movie relies on playing with the audience's stance on this innovative technology. The movie is constantly going back and forth, weighing the good and the bad in a way that, I think, works really well. However we are experiencing the events of this movie from the perspective of Mae (Emma Watson) so in order for the "back and forth" element to work, the actress playing Mae needed to be able to play the "back and forth" opinion convincingly. I thought Emma Watson did a very good job with this role.


Con - Karen Gillan (-4pts)

Much like John Boyega, my complaint here is not with the actress (Karen Gillan) herself. We see Annie in multiple stages throughout the movie. She ranges from happy and successful to a depressed mess. I thought Karen nailed the performance but we never learn what the character did at the company. We never see (or learn) what she did to achieve her success and we never see what causes her downfall. The result is an audience that is unable to relate to this character and makes her scenes less interesting. I think one of this movie's biggest problems is having too many interesting side characters that the two hour film does not have enough time to explore. I feel like this movie could have been split into an entire season of a TV series like Black Mirror in which each episode explores a different character.


Pro - Tom Hanks & Patton Oswalt (+5pts)

I really enjoyed watching these two in this movie. Their characters were mysterious in the sense that you can never really tell what their intentions are. Are they good or are the bad? This is a question the movie wants you to ask yourself through this movie and I think it was executed very well. These two actors played here roles very convincingly which made the movie very interesting for me. Part of me always knew whether they were good or bad, but the film gives a few scenes that had me uncertain.


Con - The Ending (-3pts)

The build up to this movie was done very well but I thought the ending was a bit anti-climactic. I do not plan on giving anything away, so this point will be vague but I felt like the ending left the audience with a lot of questions. What is Mae's current role? What are Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt's characters up to? What is the current state of The Circle? This did not ruin the movie for me, I just found the ending to be a bit unfulfilling.


Grading Scale


Rating: B- (84pts)

The Circle was a pretty interesting movie because it presented a world (not too unlike our own) where a new piece of innovative technology is revealed that will revolutionize he world for better or for worse. What this movie does so well, is show both the good and the bad that can come from this technology. The movie has a fair balance by showing extremes on both sides which causes the main character (and the audience) to be caught in the middle, leaning either way during different points in the movie. Where this movie falls a bit short is it's, somewhat, unfulfilling ending and it's underdeveloped side characters. These things do not hurt the movie tremendousl but I am amused by the unfulfilling ending because there is a line in this movie in which Mae says that her greatest fear is "unfulfilled potential". That's the strangest piece of foreshadowing I have ever seen.

Overall I think this a good movie that is worth seeing. It challenges the audiences' opinion of new technology in an effective and compelling way. You may not have to rush out to the theater for this one, but I think that The Circle is worth seeing whether you see it in theaters or wait for home video.

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    • Movie Beasts profile image

      Bryan Ouellette 11 months ago from Hudson, MA

      Hello Rachael. I also noticed the terrible rotten tomatoes scores, which is why it took me a couple weeks to get around to this one. This movie throws out a lot of Pros and Cons to the technology in the story. I liked the back and forth element but I imagine some people being frustrated by the movie not picking one issue and sticking to it.

      Don't be afraid to give it a shot when it hits home video!

      Thanks for your comment,


    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 11 months ago from Illinois

      I thought it looked interesting, but it got abysmal critical ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, which is primarily why I didn't watch it. Not sure why though. It looked good based on the trailers.