This movie freaking sucks
Ok! So let's talk about The Circle. What happens when you put a bunch of charming and charismatic actors and actresses in a movie then forget to hire a writer, editor, and director and base it off some crappy subject material? THE CIRCLE. Wow is this thing bad! It's a damn shame too because this is the final featuring length film for Bill Paxton. But of course the film does everything it can to avoid this topic. Because it's not smart enough to conjure up a touching tribute for the late, great actor. Sorry this is how you had to go, man. I will remember you for your classic roles, not this. Outside of Paxton you have guys like Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt sleepwalking through their roles, and other people like Glenne Headly, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, and John Boyega are given nothing to do. And at the center of it all..... is Emma Watson. She is trying, I'll give her that, but her character is just so poorly written it doesn't matter.
So, let's talk about the abysmal writing, shall we? This film is based off a best selling novel of the same name by David Eggers. In the novel, similar to the film, Eggers attempts to show us what a world of total transparency looks like. But it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. This is the biggest problem with this film. It attempts to try and make some elaborate statement on what would happen if we went 100% transparent, but then it just goes down the most generic twists and turns you could possibly imagine. You can see the ending coming from a mile away. Oh! Congress is investigating The Circle, and now the person leading said investigation is being investigated themselves? WHAT A COINCIDENCE. I'm sure The Circle didn't have anything to do with that! Most of these characters are just generic stereotypes that fill the void around Emma Watson. And what about that ending. GEEZ that ending is TERRIBLE! It is the most predictable piece of crap ending you can think of. Hey! Let's have a story about 100% transparency end with the top dogs getting in trouble for not being 100% transparent! Ya! NO. You have to be more creative than that, guys! C'mon!
In addition to the crap story, we had a pretty lackluster showing from the editing department, as well. Though, before I get to what I didn't like I have to highlight the one thing I did like in this film that came courtesy of this department....when Watson's character was being "100% transparent" she was basically live-streaming her life. During these moments, the editing crew put up the "comments section" of her live stream on the screen, which was pretty cool. Films have been struggling to figure out how to showcase texting and reading things on a screen for years and what they did to showcase that here was better than most films out there. This guy, Tony Zhou, did a great video essay on the subject. Anyway, moving on. While the editing crew showed up with those sequences, where they didn't show up was with the, well, editing of the film. There are a lot of cuts throughout this film that are either too late or too early. On multiple occasions I was sitting there thinking that there was going to be more of the scene forthcoming just to see it end abruptly. I don't know why the editing was as distracting as it was here, but it was.
I don't know if all of this falls back on director James Ponsoldt. He has struggled to recapture the magic of his earlier films like The Spectacular Now and Smashed. But with both of these films the argument can be made that he had better writers and actors that don't necessarily need to be told what to do from the director. That later one is the biggie for me. Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, and Brie Larson could be great in a film even if the director was an actual monkey, but there are just some people that have to have a director to help them through a movie, and the more I watch Emma Watson, the more I think she's one of them. Now there's nothing wrong with that....I think Natalie Portman falls into this same boat and no one is going to deny that she's one of the best actresses of the 21st century. But someone like Natalie Portman learned early on that she needs direction from experiences like Star Wars. Watson seems to have in her head that because she did a great job with Hermione she can make it on her own, but in a film like this where the direction is erratic she really struggles. I say this out of love, Emma. You have to pick films with good directors if you're gonna stay in Hollywood's elite. There will always be phone-it-in roles for you that you couldn't possibly screw up, (looks at Beauty and the Beast) but if you're looking to step outside your comfort zone you gotta do it with a great director. See Natalie Portman teaming up with Darren Aronofsky or Pablo Larraín.
Anyway, for the rest of the world not named Emma Watson....stay very far away from this film. Unless you're a movie nut like me and like seeing a bit of innovation when it comes to displaying Internet comment sections in a film, there's nothing for you here. Only pain.
The Critique: Erratic direction combined with terrible writing lead The Circle down a dark path to one of the worst films of the year so far, despite its charismatic list of stars.
The Recommendation: I know you long to hear it.....AVOID THIS ONE LIKE THE PLAGUE
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage