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The Circle by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Oct 23, 2017, 8:40 PM by Koray Savas

James Ponsoldt reunites with composer Danny Elfman for The Circle, a tech thriller that follows Emma Watson's character as she rises through the ranks of a bustling company, only to discover its intentions are much more sinister than they appear. There's a strong sense of satire in the film, but not in the traditional sense. The Circle here is an obvious nod to Apple, with its focus on technology, social media, and unique design aesthetics; and while the film raises the age old conflict of privacy and ethics when it comes to consumer products, it mostly knows what it is and plays the narrative straight.

Ponsoldt and Elfman last collaborated on 2015's The End Of The Line, which brought us one of the composer's more notably low-key and sparse efforts. The opposite approach is taken here, with Elfman fully embracing synth and electronics to fit in with the narrative, and turning that dial up to eleven. I give a lot of merit to the score due to the bold nature of Elfman's approach. Such a score might be commonplace for other composers, but with Elfman forgoing a lot of what he is traditionally known for and succeeding really well at it, adds more weight to the proceedings. 2017 is one of his best years in ages, and The Circle is truly a good score that uses electronics in a much brighter way than other composers would. He nails the corporate espionage aspect of the film, using the music to symbolize this powerful entity with a fake smile and an ulterior motive. It reminds me a lot of Valve's Portal games and how the music is used there. Rhythm and rising action reign supreme, creating a driving force in the music that propels the listener through the 41-minute runtime with ease.

The Circle is a joyride of electronics and pulsing rhythms. Danny Elfman brings life to the setting and narrative in the film through the duality of his score. Part high-octane thriller, part-"source music," the music here never tires or loses steam. It punches through with great force and colorful personality that is typically hard to find in the genre.