The Circle

Critics Consensus

The Circle assembles an impressive cast, but this digitally driven thriller spins aimlessly in its half-hearted exploration of timely themes.

15%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 142

21%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 18,151

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Movie Info

Mae Holland (Emma Watson) seizes the opportunity of a lifetime when she lands a job with the world's most powerful technology and social media company. Encouraged by the company's founder (Tom Hanks), Mae joins a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes soon starts to affect the lives and futures of her friends, family and that of humanity.

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Critic Reviews for The Circle

All Critics (142) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (120)

  • Director James Ponsoldt (who adapted the book with Eggers) barely develops any character besides Watson's, piling on narrative complications instead.

    April 9, 2020 | Full Review…
  • An idea in a Hollywood thriller is almost an accident now, so The Circle deserves praise for thoughtfulness.

    August 23, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Floats many intriguing ideas, then lets them drop with a thud.

    May 11, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Even as it focuses on why information just wants to be free, "The Circle" is stuck in a loop.

    May 5, 2017 | Rating: C | Full Review…

    Eric Kohn

    indieWire
    Top Critic
  • As a satire, The Circle might have been worth a few giggles, but as a deadly serious drama, it's laughable in an entirely different way.

    May 2, 2017 | Full Review…
  • From its beginning, the movie has difficulty wedding its collage of ideas with a compelling narrative.

    April 30, 2017 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Circle

  • Mar 12, 2018
    "Privacy was only temporary...and now it's over." Rarely has a film missed the point of its own story as completely as The Circle does. After getting a job with a tech company Mae Holland quickly becomes a rising star who pushes for more and more access to people's lives through mobile devices; alienating her friends and family along the way. Rather than learning a lesson about the importance of a person's right to privacy the heroine (and by extension the filmmakers) double down and call for the complete elimination of privacy. And, the Orwellian hell of constantly being monitored and being forced into the system is treated more as a coming reality and positive than cautionary. Starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan, and John Boyega, the cast is pretty good and delivers solid performances. Additionally, the script does a fairy job at building mystery and intrigue as to a possible sinister plot within the Circle and its new programs. Despite getting the message wrong, The Circle is a compelling dramatic thriller that examines the frightening possibilities that technology can bring.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2018
    Not sure why the hate on this movie. Yes, it's a little exaggerated and far fetched, but well acted and engaging. Not a movie I would buy and rewatch over and over, but entertaining enough for a one off viewing.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2017
    Watson's character is so unlikable and poorly constructed, changing her mind so randomly, that any discussion about the limits of technology and what it could represent to privacy gets lost in a script that doesn't know what to do with it, especially as it reaches an awful ending.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2017
    Tom Hanks has been in some shitty films in the past few years, but this one, I believe, is his true nadir. He should really stop doing Dave Eggers adaptations. And even though Daniel Radcliffe has managed to forge a serious acting career post-Harry Potter, Emma Watson has yet to latch onto anything of real quality. The Circle is an aimless critique on social media and the surveillance state. Just when you think they've touched on something of substance to say about privacy or the ubiquity of technology, it is quickly glazed over for some new, boring plot development. The film concerns Watson as she has started her dream job at a Google/Facebook-like social media cult, the titular Circle. She's expected to participate in company events and keep a level of transparency in her private life like everyone else at the job does. Tom Hanks is the Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg of the company and, of course, he is a nice guy running a successful company that just happens to be eroding civil liberties and manipulating the government. Now you would think that this is middling enough to at least be entertaining, so why does the movie suck so bad? I think it's mostly because the plot is so contrived. John Boyega's character simply exists to tell the audience what the conflict is, he never interacts with anyone besides Watson, and in the end he is the guy who resolves the problem. So many times, I asked myself "Why in the hell is Emma doing that?" with no real answer. Watson's inner struggle translates to her just doing things that don't make sense, like kayak at night during a storm and later subject herself to being on camera for every second of her life for months. Of course, there wouldn't be a plot if she didn't do these baffling things. There is absolutely no tension, the performances are painfully bland (especially from Ellar Coltrane), and its conclusion is not very clever. Wasted potential like this is something I've been seeing way too much of this year.
    K Nife C Super Reviewer

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