There are a few times of the year when a movie is released that leave me wondering if it will be a hit or a bust. January through March, August and September are the months that can either surprise me or provide a subpar movie experience I’ve come to expect. These are the months that make movie reviewing feel like actual work. So, did “The Circle” fall into the category of surprise or disappointment? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review…
The director, James Ponsoldt, doesn’t have a resume that is impressive enough to make me comfortable with a cast of this caliber. This is actually the second film of his I’ve reviewed. The first review being “The End of the Tour” back in 2015. This review is for a film considerably different in that this is a fictional story based on the idea of an information company akin to “Google” slowly growing in power and influence. The other is about a writer and his life. It’s clear that the stories are different however they are similar in that both films are character based stories. Neither film is action oriented. Perhaps it was the size of the cast that was the stumbling block for James to get real emotions conveyed on screen in this movie. Clearly, we cannot blame the actors because they are talented. Some are established, some up and coming, but all of them are talented. So I place the flat, almost two dimensional, delivery of each character squarely on Ponsoldt’s shoulders. We as the audience should have enjoyed intense, stressful, thought provoking characters and dialogue. Instead, we are left staring at the big screen in wonder at how so much talent can act with such mediocrity.
The overall movie was not well constructed either. The screenplay was adapted from a book and often much is left out in transition from page to screen. I think everyone who has read a book and then watched the movie thought to themselves, or perhaps said to a neighbor or friend, “The book is better and has so much more to the story.” This movie felt like they took only the important chapters and then shot the film. The story didn’t really flow and it felt choppy. We meet characters but then certain ones change without real explanation (Karen Gillan), or they don’t have much to do in the film but are integral to the overall plot (John Boyega). It’s very disjointed and that’s unfortunate. I’m sure the book is great. I haven’t read it but they decided to make a movie from it so something has to be in the pages that made this story worthwhile. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t capture whatever the magic of the book is at all. In fact, the ending is so abrupt the only character to mirror the emotion of the film at any actual point is “Stenton” played by Patton Oswalt. He has one last line in the film right at the end, then walks off screen. That about sums up this film. Just one thing after another happening with no rhythm or flow.
“The Circle” in theaters now! I don’t recommend people see this film on the big screen. If you wish to watch it in the comfort of your own home, go for it. I was disappointed in this film because the talent was there to make this something truly worthwhile and it didn’t deliver. It was probably my most disappointing film to watch in 2017 so far. I’m even bummed out while writing this review. I really wanted to enjoy this film and instead I was bored and let down. No bueno folks. No bueno at all.