So I read The Circle for the second time recently. I tend to read books multiple times in order to fully get the story and having read two trilogies in five days I thought I would switch it up and read a one off. I somehow landed on The Circle by Dave Eggers. I nearly forgot the gem that was this book. Now, I am notoriously guilty of hating every movie adaptation of a novel I've already read. And this was no different. If I had only watched the movie I would have thought that it had some good points and interesting scenes, but I would also have thought it was incomplete. There was something missing from the movie. Actually, there were a lot of somethings missing from the movie. I do commend the casting choice of Eamon Bailey, though. Tom Hanks rarely gets the chance to play the villain. Although I suppose he wasn't REALLY a villain in the real sense of the word. He was more of an accidental unintentional bad guy. Because everyone hates when Big Brother is watching them, no matter how it's packaged. They may start out thinking it's a fantastic idea, but eventually something happens that horrifies the public and it all ends up feeling very 1984. Anyway, the point I'm making is that the movie, while decent on its own, is not a lot like the book. They removed so much of the soul of the book when making it. I get it; there are bound to be time and budget restraints, but they outright changed plot lines.
The character of Annie for example. While I love Karen Gillan and love that they let her keep her accent, her characters origins are a big section of the plot. They came over on the Mayflower, they were proud of their heritage etc. They didn't just move to North America that generation. And it's not like Karen Gillan can't do a North American accent; you actually hear it when she plays Nebula in the Marvel movies. Hell, she does it in Occulus and in that short lived show Selfie. So what gives? Accent aside, she did a great job as the character of Annie. She portrayed her well, displaying the shiny exterior in the beginning and letting the cracks show slowly throughout the movie. It was great. She really displayed how working at The Circle was not as fabulous as everyone thought, while trying to maintain a shiny veneer of disgusting amounts of optimism. Which leads me to other characters and their roles in the book and movie.
The Character of Mercer was played by a decent actor. Pretty sure he played someone in Stranger Things( looking back, I think this is wrong). That's beside the point. He didn't meet the physical description of the book version of Mercer. Novel Mercer was large, in both the fact that as he got older he gained more weight, and spoke slowly, getting his points in his own time. Movie Mercer was more delicate in stature and seemed more timid. In the book, he was often angry and frustrated with Mae. Mae's opinion of Mercer's behaviour was often that of an individual who lived in the past and couldn't see the benefits of social media or anything based on the internet. She was a typical millenial in her opinions of how backward Mercer was. She briefly reminisces about the man she dated while in college and misses that person, but doesn't dwell.
Francis. Oh Francis. He seems to have been missed entirely from the movie adaptation. This was mildly irritating. He actually was in a big chunk of the book and I get sort of why he wasn't in the movie. A lot of his "scenes" were not suitable for younger viewers, and he did come off as annoying. BUT he also was a part of our protagonists character growth. She spent a great deal of her time with Francis despite having underlying feelings of distaste and shame being around him after his initial innapropriate behaviour involving a camera and a handjob. Probably they should have just made the movie an R rating so that they could do the book justice. I feel like he was removed from the movie because he was part of a love triangle and was a gross character. But, you know, there are people like him out in the world. If you're going to make a movie based on a book surrounding Big Brother ideas, show the reality of some people as well.
Ty/Kalden was interesting in the movie. You never actually get to see the mystery unfold on the big screen like you do in the book. And I'm sort of bummed that the painting wasn't there in the movie. Read the book and you'll know what I mean. The Ty/Kalden dynamic with Mae was good. It wasn't as good as the book, but it certainly displayed some of the intrigue she felt toward the mysterious man. However, if they had done it the way they should have, the audience would have seen the deeper connection she felt with Ty/Kalden. She didn't discover who he was until almost the end of the book, and by then she had thought he was some crazy conspiracy nut. It was absolutely fabulous the way it unfolded. In the end, she agreed with what he believed and that's when the real villain is unveiled as well. You don't know who the bad guy is until the end, and it's quite cleverly done. Ty/Kalden is a great character in the book. In the movie he's just okay. Mae is instantly drawn to this vaguely awkward man at one of her first parties, and can't stop thinking about him until their next meeting, and so on. They way she behaves in the book is exactly like a person who thinks with their hormones upon their first meeting of a romantic interest. The movie doesn't do it justice either. In the movie, he does come off as very paranoid, but in the book, he's just eccentric and very serious. That was disappointing to see in the movie, despite the actor doing an okay job at it. The Ty/Kalden character is strangely complex, so I get the difficulty.
Mae Holland is our protagonist. She was played by Emma Watson, and that's fine I guess. I actually think she missed some key character traits in the movie. Mae has some very immature views towards romance and sex in general. She performs sexual acts with Francis over and over again despite knowing he has a video of her performing a handjob on him. And then she goes and has sex with another guy she barely knows in a tunnel! Of course, none of this happens in the movie. So unless you've read the book, she just looks like she's playing the field with a mysterious man and a slightly annoying guy. Mae also has these opinions of the tertiary characters that are very unflattering in the book. But you don't get to see it in the movie. Also, in the movie it plays up this scene while she's kayaking and it just doesn't happen in the book. She doesn't almost drown in the book, guys. She actually is just caught for using a kayak long after the business had closed. But I guess that's not dramatic enough. Mae struggles with trying to balance her opinions of what The Circle is supposed to stand for and what the actual truth of it is. She already has doubts near the beginning, but they're not fully formed and you only see bits and pieces of it until the untimely death of Mercer. And let's face it, that was definitely her fault. I don't care what anyone thinks about this. She was one hundred percent at fault. She knew what kind of person he was, and that he wouldn't have been okay with her trying to locate him. And she damn well knew he would react negatively. In the book, he kills himself to get away. In the movie it's just an accident that results in her going home. She doesn't go home. Her parents have shunned her until she leaves The Circle. It's what happens with Mercer that really strikes it home that the place she works at is, isn't all that it's cracked up to be and that it has some seedy plans. And then you find out Ty/Kalden is trying to shut it all down. What really gets me mad is that in the movie they force Bailey to put a camera on his person to really showcase his shadiness. In the book, there's none of that. There's a brief three pages at the end that display Mae thinking about how glad she is that she narrowly misses the end of the world. It's super vague and I think it was done on purpose. The movie just takes the mystery away completely.
Also, can we talk about how in the movie they just send Annie back to her home country to display her emotional breakdown? Do you actually know what happens? She collapses in her office and is in a coma! She legit just goes and goes until her body tells her no more and forces her into a coma where they have tons of theories about why she's in a coma. None of this back to Scotland bullshit they do in the movie. Anyway, if you want the real story, go read the book. I'm never wrong in my opinion that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie. Of course, this is just my opinion. A friend of mine is able to separate the books from the movies and I have never been able to. The only time I've encountered a perfect adaptation was Fight Club. Seriously, 100% identical from novel to movie. Simply amazing. Go check it out.