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Saturday
May132017

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2017 // A REVIEW OF "THE CIRCLE"

BY MATEO MORENO

Social Media has taken over all our lives, for better or worse. We all are seemingly attached to our devices and social media accounts and as we chide others for overusing theirs we can't stop using ours. It's a worldwide addiction. Ads pop up on all our browsers and strangely, they are ads of exactly the kind of things we are interested in. Or shows that we've already searched. How does it connect us? When is too much information, well, too much information? Dave Egger's 2014 novel THE CIRCLE took on these concerns and now Eggers has adapted the film with director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) for the big screen, with three thrilling starts attached. All the right ingredients, so it should soar. So why does it feel so earthbound?

Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, a young girl working a dead-end job in customer service. Her friend Annie (Karen Gillan) does her a solid and bring her onboard the company she works for, "The Circle." It's a social media titan that has a lot of obvious parallels to "Facebook." It's the kind of company where it seems to double as a college experience: employees hang out together on the lawn, eat lunch, do Yoga, talk about how they're going to rule the world one day. You know, just like your day job. Mae starts off at the company a bit rocky but rises quickly. And each week, "The Circle's" CEO Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) gives a speech to enforce that they are a loving company and have nothing but the best interests in mind. He's invented something called “SeeChange,” which are tiny cameras the size of a small rubber ball that can be placed anywhere, transmitting Super HD images and give information such as weather and atmosphere conditions and information on anyone in the frame. Sure, that's not creepy at all.

As the days go on, the stress of the job becomes very visible among the face of her best friend and a cult-like mood begins to sift through the air. She also meets Ty (John Boyega), a coworker who seems to think that "The Circle" is not all fun and games and goodwill towards men after all. And you know what happens when you dig around for the truth? You end up...in a mediocre movie asking great questions but only skimming the surface of answers.

Emma Watson does a good job with her character and she's charming, but Ponsoldt has her just looking around most of the time, looking "concerned." And her character shifts rather abruptly without a true sense of why and how. Tom Hanks is an inspired casting choice for the head of the company and turns what could be a thankless one dimension character into something more intriguing. The film isn't terrible, but it doesn't strike any real compelling moments either. The cinematography is interesting and Eggers asks interesting questions but not enough of them and he doesn't dig anywhere close to deep enough. The ending of THE CIRCLE is an interesting start to something darker and more interesting. But it takes until the very end to make it there.

 

MATEO'S VERDICT: IF YOU HAVE TIME

SCREENPLAY BY Dave Eggers, based on his novel DIRECTED BY James Ponsoldt STARRING Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly, Bill Paxton COUNTRY: USA

 

The Tribeca Film Festival, running April 19-30th in New York City, offers an assortment of riches when it comes to films. Documentaries, Feature Films, International Films, TV, VR technology, and more. As stated on their website, "Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, Tribeca has evolved from an annual event to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan to a gathering place for filmmakers, artists, innovators, and the global creative community." The ArtsWire Weekly has been covering the festival since 2013 and this year, Mateo Moreno and Danielle Beckmann will be our voices on from the fest.

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