Day 97 - The Circle - complete review

I watched The Circle. It’s a movie everyone needs to watch

The movie touches on some of the core concepts of privacy and does a really really good job of putting a clear LINE where transparency begins and privacy ends. They do it in an obscure fashion with no direct references, main characters who are incredibly skewed in their personalities, visions and with motives unknown to the audience. Money might be a driving factor, but Tom Hanks’ character and the guy Tom Stenton, they have LOTS of data, I wonder if money is their only over reaching goal.

Anyway, putting all of that aside, it’s a great cautionary tale of what happens when people start believing that what’s not on the internet and events whose memories are only held in a person or a few people’s memories might as well have never happened because there is no record of them!

SATIRE! I want to call this movie a satire, but the typical absurdity of satire and the explicit references to things that are outlandish and obviously impossible is lacking. The ending is very dystopian and 1984. (I wonder if the writer / director were influenced by that book. The movie ends with people not having telescreens forced on them, but voluntarily putting cameras in front of them for the whole day. They are allotted time for bathroom breaks of 3 minutes. “Bathroom lighting is the best lighting a selfie can ever have” - A wise woman once discovered.)

After 60 minutes of the movie, the tide was slowly turning and all the ominous events of the second half of the movie were on the horizon. As the movie stopped for the interval, and the lights came on, one man summed up this movie in a couple words:

Scary, huh?

The first half of Mae Holland is where most people are at right now. Not too famous, overwhelmed at how many people are interested in their daily activities which to them have been routine and mundane forever, not too worried about who is watching what, not realising that they have lost privacy simply because they have location turned on on their phone, or post geotagged photos to facebook or twitter unknowingly. (Twitter used to strip away all location information from photographs, I saw a TED Talk about this once. I don’t know if their policies have changed now though, I hope they still strip information by default and make sharing location a little bit harder so people explicitly have to do it)

All of this said, the ending is a bit confused. She says “Secrets are lies” in the beginning of the movie, she releases all of her bosses’ emails, everything is out there in the open. But the ending shows her waking up, saying good morning to the camera and then zooms out to show a collage of millions of other camera frames that look very similar. They outed the bosses, but they still couldn’t stop the loss of privacy? I don’t get it. I will definitely watch the stream the movie and watch it again, maybe things will be clearer then.

A special mention for Karen Gillan’s performance of Annie’s character! The make-up, her disheveled hair during the middle part of the movie, the wrinkles under her eyes and her final “going-back-to-normal” once she goes back home is a treat to watch on screen!

POST #97 is OVER