Film Review : I Origins (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 52%
Metacritic Score – 57/100

Directed By – Mike Cahill
Starring – Michael Pitt, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Brit Marling, Steven Yeun, and Archie Panjabi

A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.

The fan made trailer above was include instead of the official trailer because it doesn’t give away the entire film like the official one did. I just wanted to point that out.

Wow. Emotions guys…lots of emotions right now.

You can just sign me up now to watch anything that involves Zal Batmanglij, Mike Cahill, or Brit Marling. Anything. I don’t care what it is. They make films with such an emotional punch to them that it doesn’t matter if there are some glaring scientific plot holes/inconsistencies. I’m not watching a Ted talk. I’m watching a movie. I can be a little hypocritical of this ideal sometimes however, especially when discussing zombie films. I guess what it comes down to is if there is a powerful story going on, I could give two shits if the science adds up. Cahill’s previous film Another Earth falls into this category. The likelihood of an identical Earth appearing in our solar system seems improbable but the story of Brit Marling’s character makes that film special.

This is why I loved I Origins.

Michael Pitt plays a scientist trying to create a human eye from scratch to prove that intelligent design is false. Brit Marling plays his lab partner. Honestly, this really doesn’t matter until the second half of the film, and I’m not going to spoil anything by describing why. The first half of this film is where the money is at. It’s what sets up the emotional gut punch that is delivered at the end. Pitt falls in love with Sofia, heartbreakingly played by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. Their relationship and where it takes them was masterfully written by Cahill. I cared for these characters. I cared for them a lot. Sofia is this free spirit who may not fall into one religion, but believes in the spirit and soul of human beings. She is the perfect contrast to the scientific ideals of Pitt’s character Ian. Cahill tells their story with passion and great attention to little details in relationships. It also helps that both Pitt and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey had wonderful chemistry and impressed me with their acting.

The second half of the film is more of a mystery that needs to be solved. The premise of the film, that our eyes can be scanned and used almost as fingerprints, doesn’t really get explained too much which is where it probably threw a lot of people off. I didn’t need explanation. It was just enough to get me on board emotionally.

This is why I love films like this. They take a science fiction idea, which more often than not creates a unique environment, and then on comes the feels. Upstream Colour hit me the same way. There will always be room on my film collection for films like this. Like most films I love, I can’t really explain much more than I already have. I Origins is a science fiction film that goes light on the science fiction and really heavy on the ol’ heartstrings. The exploration of humanity and the mysteries that go along with that are what really made me love the film. I highly recommend it.


Film Review : The East (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 75%

Directed By – Zal Batmanglij
Starring – Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, and Patricia Clarkson

An operative 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.

I was really meaning to catch this in theaters earlier this year but ending up procrastinating like I usually do and missing it. I’m sorry I did. I would have loved to contribute to this film in a box office way because I really am a huge fan of anything Brit Marling puts her hands on. She’s gifted as an actress but I just love her writing style as all three of her films that she’s had a hand in now have been great.

The East is set up like your typical run of the mill political thriller. Marling’s last film Sound of My Voice focused on the functions and routines of cult culture and she picks up where she left off when we are first introduced to the left wing activist group called The East. Skarsgård plays the enigmatic leader whom almost resembles Marlings’ cult leader in her previous film. The difference between this film and other political thrillers however is a great sense of pacing and character development. I think there is a difference between giving a hefty amount of backstory on a character and just building an emotional bond with one. The East achieves the latter. The characters we are introduced to blossom into people that we care about when the story progresses for good and for bad. The group that we are supposed to be viewing as an antagonist group becomes the focal point and driving point of the story and it was very interesting seeing where it all went.

Like Sound of My Voice and the criminally under watched Another Earth, The East is a smart ambiguous piece of writing that while lacks a bit on the acting side (nothing really to write home about, just nothing spectacular) is a fully successful thriller and covers serious issues that could be applied to society today. I’m going to be looking forward to Brit Marlings next film, and the next one, and so forth.