THE CIRCLE – Score C
Running Time: 110 Minutes
At the end of last week’s movie reviews, I indicated that some local Las Vegas film critics were frustrated that there was no press screening scheduled for THE CIRCLE. (And I should note that the press screening for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 was scheduled just a few days before the film opened in Las Vegas.) This usually means that the studios are by-passing critical negative reviews in the hope that the film will generate a strong and positive buzz. Exactly one week ago, I sat in a large theater auditorium during the first public showing of THE CIRCLE in Las Vegas. In addition to myself, there were eight other paying customers. There is no mystery as to why there was no press screening. The film is boring and a disappointment. This is not an easy movie to like. I will never understand why Tom Hanks (in a milk toast performance) signed on to do this project.
About 18 years ago, Jeff Jonas — who at the time was the founder and chief scientist at Systems Research and Development here in Las Vegas. I remember when he addressed the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Leadership Las Vegas Class of 1999. He opened his presentation by calling out a set of names of people in the class. And he scared the hell out of us. To one person he said, “These are the books that you are reading.” To another, “These are the groceries that you bought last week”. He continued sharing personal information that included the model of the new car just purchased by yet another class member. Welcome to the world of “Big Brother” in THE CIRCLE.
Yes, our lives are monitored. When I was leading the Nevada Broadcasters Association during the transition to DTV, the federal government was giving out vouchers for a free television converter box. You would not believe the number of people who refused the voucher because they were positive that the box — once inside their home, would allow the federal government to spy on them. Paranoia ? Not according to the plot of THE CIRCLE.
THE CIRCLE is an adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 bestselling novel. Privacy vs. Paranoia. The film is directed by James Ponsoldt, who was responsible for the underrated THE END OF THE TOUR. That was a pretty darn good film. I cannot say the same thing for THE CIRCLE. Emma Watson does the best that she can. Ellar Coltrane (from BOYHOOD), Glenne Headley, Bill Paxton, Patton Oswalt and Paul Boyega (Fin in the new STAR WARS film) are also in the film. Even the musical score from the amazing Danny Elfman cannot generate tension or interest.
And for the people who loved the novel, don’t expect the same film ending as the book. The theme should have been riveting. The potential was there. The screenplay just wasn’t.