Monday, September 11, 2017

Movie Monday: The Circle

The Circle
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Film Title: The Circle

Book Title: The Circle
Release Year: 2017

Summary: After getting a job at the world's most influential tech company, Mae finds herself at the center of a global debate over transparency. 

What I Thought: Kevin and I both enjoyed this book. It certainly was not a perfect book, but in my 2014 review, I lauded it as being rather prescient. 

The movie, you may have noticed, has not been getting a lot of attention. Despite a really incredible cast list (I mean...Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega?), it's been practically rushed in and out of theatres. Having looked forward to this movie for a while, the lack of hype made me nervous. I get it now. It doesn't hold anywhere close to the power of the book. 

I think a big part of what made this movie problematic was its writing and storytelling. As I noted in my review, Eggers did a really nice job in the novel of showing the gradual stripping of privacy and acceptance of transparency - both for Mae and the culture at large. Here, in the condensed form, we really miss out on Mae's emotional and cognitive transition to being fully transparent. It feels abrupt. What makes Eggers' novel so powerful is the slow slide and realizing how susceptible to that we all are. That felt missing here. 

As great as the cast is, the writing they were given just doesn't live up to their talent. I think this movie could have been much better if they had been given better material. Also, they really should have cast someone else as Mercer. I have nothing against Ellar Coltrane who played the character, but he really did not do well in this role. Anytime he was on screen with Emma Watson, he dragged her down. It wasn't good. Of course, I complained about Eggers' writing back when I read the book, so maybe the mediocre writing here should not be a surprise. 

One thing I noted about Eggers' writing was his in-your-face symbolism. The movie handled that much better. They took out the more blatant instances of symbolism and still used water as a symbol throughout the movie. I did appreciate that. 

With that change, though, they also took out most of the character Ty's role. John Boyega is so good and I really missed that element of the story. We get the idea that he is pulling strings in the background, but we don't get to know him nearly as well or see his influence on Mae and how he helps swing her back to sanity. The movie needed that. Another 10 minutes of Ty exposition and scenes would have helped things greatly. 

Ultimately, I just didn't love this. I think it could have been good, but they squandered the resources they had: talented actors, a timely plot, a meaningful message. This really could have been the summer blockbuster. I'm disappointed with what it was instead. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Watch: Doubtful

A Reduced Review: All the pieces were there for an awesome movie, but the opportunity was squandered. 

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