When I first saw the trailer for The East I was hooked and hooked for one reason, Brit Marling. Now, before you think what you are thinking, no, it was not because of the way she looks. That doesn’t hurt, but it was after seeing her in Another Earth that I took notice of this actress. The story goes that she arrived in Hollywood and was getting offered the exact same type of role everywhere she went (Blonde in a Horror Movie). These were not the type of roles or movies she wanted to do. So, she started crafting her own films. The first one I saw was Another Earth and now, The East. However, this wasn’t the movie that I thought I was going to see.
Here is the IMDB plot synopsis: “An operative (Marling) for an elite private intelligence firm finds her priorities changing dramatically after she is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations”.
What I expected was a spy thriller type of film packed with espionage and intrigue. What I got instead was a thought provoking morality tale between what is wrong and what can be done to set it right. So forgive me, Maniacs, as I went outside our genre to deliver to you a film that is more a drama than anything else.
Marling works for a private intelligence firm that is looking to infiltrate a group of Eco-Terrorists known as The East. This private firm makes sense, but I thought it strange to go outside the standard rookie undercover FBI agent plot device. Yet, immediately it made more sense. The government doesn’t have time to follow every group. Who would really be after Eco-Terrorists? Well, big business, of course. Marling is the firm’s first choice to locate and infiltrate The East. After a few days of living the counter culture lifestyle, she realizes that she has been following a federal agent. Clearly, she is out of her element. Through a course of events, she inadvertently meets up with a member of The East group. Once there, she encounters a completely different culture and starts to fall into their way of thinking.
Again, this is really nothing new. Marling’s character, Sarah, lives as they do, eats what they eat, and starts to fall for their charismatic leader, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard. Yet, when she is out on her first mission with The East (what they call “Jams”), she sees first hand the victims of The East’s attacks. Where the parallel lies is between what The East is doing and the owners of these business poisoning the environment. What they are doing is exactly the same thing, purposely hurting people. One group does it for money, the other does it for revenge. The lines between what is morally correct and justice get blurred. The conflict is what Sarah plans to do with this unique perspective on the world.
The East is packed with great performances from both Marling and Skarsgard. What was disappointing was Ellen Page’s Izzy. It is probably safe to say that she is now type cast as the young woman who gets in over her head and thinks with her heart first before using her mind (see Juno and Hard Candy). The big surprise was Toby Kebbell (best forgotten in The Prince of Persia and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the films that is). His tragically flawed “Doc” had more character to him that Page’s Izzy. With a simple uncontrollable hand shake and a piano scene, the camera revealed more than Page’s giant monologue with her father.
Marling has released another great film that not many people have heard or will we see. It’s great that she broke away from the Hollywood stereotype and has given us films worth both her time and ours. The East is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Top 5 Picks of the Week:
1. Fantastic Voyage [Blu-ray]
2. Europa Report [Blu-ray]
3. Super Friends: Legacy of Super Powers - Season 6
4. The Purge (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)
5. Much Ado About Nothing
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS