The Circle ⭐⭐

As slick and shiny as this “cyber thriller” looks, it is sadly closer to a half-baked episode of Black Mirror that doesn’t quite make the grade. I imagined the film’s studio head must be thrilled to be rolling this out off the back of Beauty and the Beast, as Emma Watson finds a role here that fits her limited range. She is the latest grateful employee of The Circle, a Google/Microsoft-like technological conglomerate where she will soon find that the rest of the employees are more like Stepford followers of a cult, drunk on the hi-tech kool-aid and the ever fancier gadgets that monitor and take over their lives. Interestingly and playing with audience’s expectations, Tom Hanks casting as the Steve Jobs-ian founder/chairman, and Patton Oswalt as the CEO of the company, add shades of ambiguity and texture to their roles. The rest of the cast includes Bill Paxton in his last film, John Boyega after The Force Awakens, an ex-Doctor Who companion and latest Galaxy Guardian, Karen Gillan and Ellar Coltrane who was the boy from Boyhood. Unfortunately their characters are either underused, one-dimensional or underwritten, with Boyega’s apparently enigmatic character so vacuously written, he is just a plot device there to lend a far too convenient hand during expository revelations and the final resolution. Based on David Eggers’ book which he co-adopted as well, the issue of privacy vs. transparency is handled with little finesse by a film that seems blindly determined to chase after a mainstream audience at the expense of a more thoughtful and less forced story. I can believe that there is a lot of good intentions behind this film but it only makes it even more unsatisfying when the disappointing ending turns out so unconvincing, trite and narratively limp.

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