THE CIRCLE: Technology intruding upon our individual privacy probably should have been the subject of a movie a few years back when our smartphones began routinely pinpointing our whereabouts. But trust me when I say that a lack of topical timeliness isn’t this movie’s sole defect. Co-writer/director James Ponsoldt’s (THE END OF THE TOUR) screenplay follows the path of a bright young woman (Emma Watson) with a crappy job, car and family troubles who lands what seems like a dream opportunity working for a Google style tech and social media company. But complications ensue when a stupid, impulsive act on her part begats an even more stupid decision to wear a body camera allowing her life to become a 24/7 intra-company reality show. Gee, I remember really enjoying this movie when it starred Jim Carrey and was called…THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998). Most of the major characters are ill-defined like the inventor (John Boyega) of the company’s technology who incomprehensibly keeps turning up like a digital “Deep Throat” from ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) or the Steve Jobs like company founder (Tom Hanks) whose intentions and motives are never totally clarified. There’s also an overdone subplot involving Watson’s (THE BLING RING) wannabe boyfriend (Ellar Coltrane) whose invasion of his privacy climaxes with a predictable yet ridiculous tragedy. Along with its derivative unoriginal nature, this movie lacks needed dimension with storylines that are inconsistent and muddled. The conclusion is open-ended in such a way that you feel the spectre of filmmakers who ran out of ideas that weren’t that solid to begin with. For a movie with subject matter begging for intelligent treatment that has the benefit of an A-list cast, this film comes off as one infected by numerous creative viruses.
CRITIC’S GRADE: C
CLOSING CREDITS: Good movies directed by Jonathan Demme who died on April 26th – CRAZY MAMA (1975), CITIZEN’S BAND a.k.a. HANDLE WITH CARE (1977), LAST EMBRACE (1979), MELVIN AND HOWARD (1980), STOP MAKING SENSE (1984), SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA (1987), MARRIED TO THE MOB (1988), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)*, PHILADELPHIA (1993), RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (2008)
*Academy Award Winner for Best Director