The Circle

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

The Circle

The Circle is perfectly timed for this moment. To dismiss its premise as impossible is to ignore history. While every decade can be identified by its primary thrust, the one that has changed the professional, business, and personal lives of the world is surely the Internet. Rooted in that change, this movie shows us the problems that often follow enormous transitions. The good comes first, the bad often follows. We can already see and sense the growing erosion of privacy that this movie envisions.

The Circle is the name of a spectacular new city where people live and work in a culture of sharing their lives. Privacy is eliminated (“bad things happen in privacy”) and all people live in the dream world of friendship, luxury, sports, social gatherings, and work as they create a new culture that travels round the world on the Internet. Everyone is proud to be hired to live and work in The Circle. They have become passionate adherents of a new culture wrapped in a deceptive coating of progress, friendship, and caring.

Mae (Emma Watson) and Circle boss Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) show us what might happen in the future. Initially, new hire Mae has simmering doubts, especially when she meets Ty (John Boyega) the disaffected original founder of The Circle. Bailey has wrapped Ty’s original concept in fine sounding theories and sold it to millions around the world as open caring, open sharing. He announces at a packed meeting the company’s new product: a marble size glass ball that can be attached to any person or any building. He has put forty of these in a European city where no human detail escapes observation.

Bailey’s goal? Everyone will wear a marble, every detail of their lives will be automatically shared with the world. After two tough happenings in her own life, Mae squashes her suspicions and embraces Bailey’s “full transparency.” He preaches that lost children will be found in eight minutes, that dictators can’t thrive in public life and democracy will be strengthened. Privacy is the enemy. Everyone will thrive. It is “the chaos of the world made elegant.” Bailey assures his thousands of followers that his plans will cure disease, end hunger. Everyone will know everything. If you are laughing by now, reconsider.

In her usual understated way, Emma Watson plays it straight and effectively. Tom Hanks creates a convincing deceiver covered in his phony good intentions. If you think the big picture here is extreme, what is your reaction when you remember the world without the Internet? We have already learned that in its few decades the Internet has already allowed the computer to rule the communication and behavior of the world. Before you laugh, remember that enormous world change is always open to selfish misuse. The fine casting of Emma Watson and Tom Hanks reminds us to continue asking ourselves the central question of the movie: Where is the Internet’s erosion of our privacy taking us?

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Circle
Word Count : 502
Running time: 1:50
Rating : PG-13
Date : May 7, 2017