Imagine sharing every one of your conversations with the world. A young woman does this voluntarily when she finds a job with a social media corporation bent on erasing privacy in The Circle, an adaptation of Dave Eggers' 2013 novel of the same name. Critics, who give it a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, might prefer to erase the flick from their memory. Here's what they're saying:
- "Our gradual, voluntary loss of privacy is ripe for dramatization, but this movie arrives when people are actually backing up from social media," writes Sara Stewart at the New York Post. It doesn't help that it "feels like the brainchild of middle-aged guys … who still think of Facebook as cutting edge." Stewart adds Emma Watson is all wrong in the role of Mae, appearing too smart "to make you believe she'd buy this facile sub-Orwellian shtick."
- "There's certainly a good, smart idea there … but it remains an idea—not an emotion, and barely a movie," writes Stephen Whitty at the Newark Star-Ledger. His main gripe is with the characters: Mae never lets the audience know her true feelings, while her boss, the supposed villain played by Tom Hanks, "never seems remotely threatening," he writes. "It leaves us with a story that progresses without deepening, that ends without climaxing."
- Robert Abele says the film "never builds up a head of steam as either dark drama, modern satire or dystopian thriller." Mostly, it's "a middling, choppily edited mess," he writes at the Los Angeles Times, concluding "The Circle is like a buggy app, something you want to work but is doomed to be remembered more as a missed opportunity than a memorably cautionary message for our times."
- But Owen Gleiberman disagrees. The Circle is "not necessarily a movie you can warm up to" given its alarming subject matter. But it remains "a swankly sinister little mind teaser" and "a cautionary tale for the age of social-media witch hunts and compulsive oversharing," he writes at Variety. It also has "an elegant and original look" and in Watson, an actress that proves "she can hold a film together with the force of her personality."
(The film was Bill Paxton's final role