The Circle: A Sci-Fi for Modern Times

Ryan Phillips, Editor

Recently, The Circle, a PG-13 science fiction film, was released in theaters. I had not seen the trailer but the brief description my phone gave me sparked my interest and I decided to go and see it.

Overall, I’d describe The Circle as a dramatic science fiction in which a utopia and dystopia exist simultaneously. This central concept is precisely what makes the movie so interesting and thought-provoking. The main character of the film is Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson. Mae seems to live a relatively boring life, with her boring office job and modest social life. Then, her awesome friend helps her land a job with her at a leading technology and social media company—The Circle. Mae seems to enjoy her job in customer relations, despite it being at a computer. However, The Circle soon starts to give off ‘cult’ vibes. Mae enjoys the concerts and parties at The Circle, but she doesn’t take advantage of other aspects of its huge social scene—like weekend activities that help build the community—and one of the movie’s most bizarre scenes is when Mae gets questioned by a pair of overly friendly Circle employees about whether she’s enjoying her time at The Circle. After all, she hasn’t attended any of the optional activities and she still hasn’t made a profile on one of the company’s social networks!

Soon enough, Mae becomes more popular and even decides to go transparent with a new technology of The Circle called SeeChange. With this tiny camera fastened to her, everyone will see and hear everything Mae does. The Circle’s slogan is “Knowing is Good. Knowing Everything is Better.” The company essentially aims to create a more perfect society and democracy through eliminating privacy, among the politically elite in particular. Eventually, Mae puts forth the radical idea that “secrets are lies,” and when we withhold information from people, we are violating their right to know the whole truth. As the movie progresses, Mae becomes more distant from those close to her because of the situation she has created. Things begin to spiral out of hand and Mae is put in a precarious position regarding how she is going to fight what she has created.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it had a nice amount of intensity and suspense, but what I enjoyed the most about it was that it made me think about radical ideas that I had never really considered, but that have some relevance. What is the ideal amount of privacy? What would the world be like if everyone had access to everyone else’s knowledge? Can secrets be called lies? How could the best participatory democracy be achieved? I’d recommend seeing this movie if you’re looking for something thought-provoking and engaging, but without a complex plot. If this description appeals to you, then you might as well give this movie a chance. You will be left considering important things that you perhaps would never have thought about.