If Facebook were a tech company headquartered in Hell—and who's to say it actually isn't, eh?—it might closely resemble The Circle, the blandly creepy organization at the center of the new movie by director James Ponsoldt (The End of the Tour). The picture is based on a 2013 novel by Dave Eggers, and it shows us a world in which individual privacy has withered, and heedless vigilantism is routinely fanned into online witch hunts. This ugly digital future is a little less-disturbing than it might have been, because in many ways it's already arrived.
Emma Watson is Mae Holland, a young Bay Area woman who's rescued from a dismal temp job by a call from her longtime friend Annie (Karen Gillan), who works at The Circle and gets a job interview for Mae so that she can come onboard, too. (The interview is a typically whimsical nerd interrogation: "Joan Baez or Joan Crawford? Sushi or Soylent?") The company is a shiny paradise in which employees are coddled at every turn. There are support groups for all sorts of life annoyances, and off-campus party excursions at which stars like Beck provide the entertainment. All of the employees seem to be young, and all are deliriously enthusiastic. Soon Mae is installed in a deluxe dorm room, marveling at her amazing luck, writes Kurt Loder.