Fresh off the immense success of her last movie ‘Beauty & The Beast,’ Emma Watson is back on the big screen alongside Tom Hanks in the thriller ‘The Circle.’ But does the film live up to the book? Our editors — one who read the book and one who did not — review it here. WARNING: spoilers ahead!
Anyone whose ever loved a book so much it hurts knows the immense anxiety felt when that story is turned into the movie. So many factors go into making the flick just right and it can leave fans with many questions: Did they cast the right people? Did they leave in my favorite scene? Did they change the ending? Well, I had never read The Circle before checking out the film at it’s premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, so to make sure our review covered all our bases, Senior Entertainment Editor Emily Longeretta and I are tackling this one together from two points of view: someone who has read the book, and someone who hasn’t. Let’s do this!
Emma Watson As Mae Holland, the film’s lead
Dina: “Who is Mae?” That’s honestly what I kept asking myself the entire movie, beginning to end. No question that Emma Watson is a phenomenal actress — and if Tim Cook ever needs a break, he should call her and Tom Hanks to host Apple’s annual product presentations. But I didn’t quite follow the arc of her character. How did she go from making fun of “The Circle” and their pod people to chugging down the Kool-Aid faster than you can say, “Oh Yeah?” It just didn’t really make sense. I felt like there was a lot missing about the development of her character. I wasn’t sure if I was meant to root for her as a heroine or pity her as a victim.
Emily: Mae wasn’t an exceptionally likable person in the book. Much like Emma’s version, she was a little bit all over the place — she lacked knowing what she actually wanted and flip-flopped from being upset over the death of someone she cared about to basically supporting the reason he died. To me, the film’s version of Mae was a little more likable, and that was probably because it’s really hard to dislike Emma. My one complaint: they should have just made her British — that accent was all over the place.
John Boyega as Ty
Dina: He was just kind of there. He’s supposed to be the Mark Zuckerberg character, the man behind the curtain at the end of The Wizard of Oz, yet I felt like the whole time, he was just an after thought. He shows up at odd moments to fill in plot points for Emma’s character toward the beginning. Then he completely disappears for nearly an hour, only to show up again at the end to help Mae with her plan to take down The Circle. But he’s not even in the room when she does it! Something tells me this character was meant to be more important, but that John had to squeeze this in while filming The Last Jedi or something. In fact, in one scene, he’s merely superimposed into the crowd. It was just odd!
Emily: Coming from someone who actually loves John Boyega, this casting was so off. However, I guess that’s because this character was not even close to the one we grew to love in the book. John was fine, but he was in the film for what, a combined eight minutes if that? His big reveal as Ty, one of the “Wise Men” was anti-climatic and not only did you not even have time to care about his real identity, you probably didn’t even remember who Ty was.
The Circle’s Climatic Scene
Dina: That has to be — SPOILER ALERT — the death of Mae’s friend Mercer, which is broadcasted live after Mae goes “transparent.” It’s also perhaps the best scene in the whole movie: Emma’s acting is on point, the real threat of being part of the The Circle is realized, and Tom Hanks is there. The end.
Emily: I have to agree with Dina this time, since the whole Ty reveal didn’t even happen in the film and was played off as no big deal. However, did his death really change her? Not so much. I agree that the scene was great — kept you guessing, Tom Hanks was there (the best part of the entire thing), and Emma does a great job. My problem: it should have been the reveal of Ty. My other problem: Mae had no personal relationship with neither Ty or Mercer beforehand. In the book, Mercer was her ex-boyfriend who she was once in love with, and Ty was a man she had multiple hook ups with. This was a huge miss for me.
Dina: Left me totally confused! Does she think The Circle is bad or good? After everything that’s happened — the death of her friend, the breakdown of her mentor, and the humiliation of her parents — how can she possibly believe that constant surveillance is a good idea?! And what happens to The Circle’s leaders? Are they put in jail for all the shady dealings? Is Ty the head of The Circle now? Is Mae? I had more questions leaving than I did coming in.
Emily: This one’s a positive for me. The ending of the film didn’t leave me satisfied in any way — why is she taking over the company? Is she even? What were in the leaders’ emails? However, it left me more satisfied than the book did. At least she retaliated a little bit for what had happened. In the film, Bailey and Stenton basically forced her to hunt down Mercer, and she ended up basically throwing their own “transparency” in their own faces; in the book, she just goes along with it. But, where was Ty? Was he there for her take down? And what did it mean? Ugh.
HollywoodLifers, will you be seeing the film and supporting Emma and Tom?