Over the past few years, James Ponsoldt has emerged as one of the most compelling independent filmmakers of his generation, following critically-acclaimed films like Smashed, The Spectacular Now, and The End of the Tour. He’s built up the kind of reliable reputation in the industry to make any new film of his one of the more anticipated independent films of the year, even when it has a much bigger budget than any of his previous outings, with a premise larger and more broad than any of the human conflicts he’s tackled before.
All of that and more is why Ponsoldt’s newest film, The Circle, had started looking more and more like it could be one of the more interesting films of the year so far. Headlined by talented actors like Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, and Karen Gillan, and based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Dave Eggers (who co-wrote the film’s script with Ponsoldt), The Circle had all the makings of being one of the best films of 2017. Unfortunately, the final product just doesn’t come close to living up to the promise offered by its many impressive cast and crew members.