Make no mistake: “The Circle” is not a great movie by any means.
However, it is a movie I would highly recommend that every American see. Although we’re not even halfway through 2017, it’s hard to believe Hollywood will release a more conservative movie this year.
I have not seen a contemporary film that does a better job of deconstructing the fake utopian schemes of progressivism. I only doubt whether that was the movie’s actual purpose … or the filmmakers couldn’t help but subconsciously go there, given the subject matter.
Just look at the movie’s main characters.
The heroine, Mae Holland, is portrayed by Emma Watson, of “Harry Potter” fame (who, in real life, fancies herself a sophisticated young spokeswoman for progressive causes). Yet her character is your typical millennial snowflake, languishing in a going-nowhere customer service phone-bank job (despite the highly worthwhile art history degree she went into debt to obtain).
Furthermore, she even naively encourages her fellow millennials to click social media “frowns” on a piece of protest art, in order to send a stern message to the oppressive regime it’s protesting.
You can’t make this stuff up — except there’s more.
Meanwhile, megastar Tom Hanks basically plays a sinister hybrid of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, a chill genius-mogul who demands casual dress at work and likes to surf the California waves before the workday. Hanks’ character, Eamon Bailey, is the world’s foremost progressive icon as head of The Circle mega-corporation and even goes so far as to say in the movie that he “believes in the perfectibility of man.”
Nevertheless, behind the scenes, Bailey’s just another “do as I say, not as I do” limousine liberal. He once more proves progressivism’s inherent flaw: human nature is not basically good, man is fallen, and on his own (without the help of God), he cannot hope to rise above his fallen nature.
Then there’s Mae’s love interest, Mercer, played by Ellar Coltrane. He’s a would-be boyfriend for Watson’s character and is suspicious of a cozy alliance between Big Business and Big Government. To put it another way, he prefers a real life to the fake one peddled by progressivism’s alliance between Isengard and Mordor.
Mercer desires to live off the grid and works with his hands, running a small business making deer-antler ornaments. He even drives a pickup truck, and he is constantly hounded as a “deer killer” by hordes of The Circle’s most devoted progressives (which are essentially a caricature of Berkley’s current student body).
Along the way, The Circle uses health care as the means to gain control over the average American’s life. Sound familiar?
The Circle even proposes a government mandate for purchasing its social media product (to make you a more responsible citizen, of course). Yeah … that sounds familiar, too. It’s even pointed out that nobody at The Circle has any kids, and staff members are encouraged to abandon their families in exchange for joining the collective instead.
Seriously, I’m not sure how we, conservatives, could get this movie made if we actually tried.
Heck, the movie even shows how we’re more connected with each other than ever before — but, perhaps, less fulfilled and more spiritually starved than ever before as well. Mae Holland exposes her complete life to the social media world, and the comments from the millions following her depict mostly sad, shallow, and empty lives.
In other words, while progressing technologically, we are regressing socially and relationally. For no technology can fill the God-shaped void in all our hearts. A virtual world cannot be a substitute for the fulfillment found in loving our neighbor as we love ourselves here, in the real world.
Like the better (and more brutally) made “Get Out” released earlier this year, “The Circle” turns progressivism on itself. The film’s ultimate conclusion is that the accoutrements of progressivism — material success, intellectual enlightenment, technological advancement, and utilitarian ethics — ultimately cannot satisfy the existential longing each of us has. In fact, believing otherwise leads to tyranny, as the very people progressivism claims to help the most always become its foremost victims.
Now, “The Circle,” and director James Ponsoldt, don’t point the audience to the alternative — but that’s where we come in.