The Circle Blu-ray Review
Mae Holland (Emma Watson, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) is dissatisfied with her lack of reaching her known potential. She has no money and no steady job, spending a typical day at the water company fielding bill disputes over the phone. Through a friend, she hears about a tech company called The Circle.
The Circle is a company that gives its employees fun benefits to keep them motivated, like access to helipads and French versions of bocce ball. It’s clearly modeled after places like Google, only the Dalai Lama never visited those headquarters. What they do on the inside of the compound, though, is a bit more questionable.
During an Apple-esque presentation, in which an auditorium full of employees laugh cling to every words and laugh at every joke, founder and CEO Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks, SULLY) offers The Circle’s latest innovation: SeeChange, a marble-sized camera that offers pristine real-time video and perhaps far too much intrusion.
When Bailey barks “The entire world is watching!” he is doing it as a pitch, not a warning. Yet, even though Bailey brings comfort by declaring that terrorists could be stopped as they plot and pandas can be viewed as they cuddle, it is clearly a concerning scenario. Imagine being watched watch this movie. This is more than Big Brother; it’s also Little Brother, Uncle Steve and The Weird Guy Who Sells Fidget Spinners at the Mall Kiosk.
THE CIRCLE is adapted from the 2013 novel of the same name by Dave Eggers, who also cowrote the screenplay with director James Ponsoldt (2015’s THE END OF THE TOUR, 2013’s THE SPECTACULAR NOW). Together, Ponsoldt and Eggers present a concept that is so terrific and yet so conceivable. Still, THE CIRCLE doesn’t quite nail the paranoia aspect. The viewer may be rightly creeped out when it’s discovered that Mae has no secrets even from strangers (they know all about her father’s MS, despite her never telling them), but the movie never quite hits the mark on diving deep into the dangers or even benefits without taking it all too far, as when Mae rambles on about how the company could play a huge role in voting registration.
One issue occurs with familiarity. With so much live streaming and social media posting, the viewer should be already aware that eyes are all over. (It’s certainly likely that some who went to the theater to see THE CIRCLE “checked in” in the popcorn line.) So what’s the big scare here, and what’s the major point? Is it that we’re comfortable with this and companies like The Circle have a function in our society, or that those who constantly use social media are a naive bunch who will fall for any “advancement” of what they hold in their hands?
Not enough is made clear, and THE CIRCLE winds up being either too unclear or far too over the top, not terribly unlike a teenager’s Twitter account.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer offers fine details and nice colors.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clean, the score comes through nicely and the sound effects occasionally put speakers to use.
No More Secrets: Completing THE CIRCLE (30:56): This collection of four featurettes covers the production of the movie.
The Future Won’t Wait: Design & Technology (10:55) covers the visual style of THE CIRCLE.
A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton (13:53) pays tribute to the late actor, whose last movie was THE CIRCLE.