Tuesday, 10 September 2013

'The East' Film Review

I heard about this movie in May and was definitely intrigued, but only just managed to catch it now and wow, I'm blown away- this is perhaps the best film I've seen this whole Summer!

"We are The East, we don’t care how rich you are. We want all those who are guilty to experience the terror of their crime. It’s easy when it’s not your life, easy when it’s not your home. But when it’s your fault, it shouldn’t be so easy to sleep at night. Specially when we know where you live. Lie to us, we’ll lie to you. Spy on us, we’ll spy on you. Poison us, we’ll poison you. We will counterattack three corporations in the next six months for their worldwide terrorism. And this is just the beginning."

Former FBI agent Sarah Moss (Brit Marling) works for Hiller Brood, a private intelligence agency and is sent on a mission to find out more about The East, an underground activist group that has gained the attention of the public eye after a recent anarchy stint with a major oil tycoon; and feed it back to her boss Sharon (Patricia Clarkson).

When Sarah gains entry into the group and sees their cult-like ways of life, she is unsure, but is drawn to leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgard). However, after taking part in a 'jam' (criminal activism), Sarah questions the morality of the jams when lives are at stake but realises that the reasons for doing it runs deep and personal within the group.

With two more jams planned, Sarah remains determined to protect her company's corporate clients against the vengeful attacks by The East, but her loyalty falters as she grows ever more aware of the injustice that exist from immoral corporate activities. Which side will she be on?

The East is well paced with a feeling of tension throughout and deals with themes that grip us all as we live in such a corporate society, forcing us to raise questions not only within the movie, but about the world around us.

Not only are the themes deep and complex, but so are the characters. Sarah's world view is turned upside down and constantly questions what is right and wrong as she is torn between two very different ways of life. The members of The East's personal pain from corporate action, especially Ellen Page's Izzy, as well as character dynamics between Sarah and Benji paralleled to Sarah's boyfriend/husband Tim back at home. 

As Sarah grows increasingly lured by The East whilst her company is pushing her to expose the group, the movie reaches a real ultimatum for Sarah. Whilst the ending was satisfyingly tense, it was subtle and didn't quite leave the lasting or explosive impact I was expecting. 

Brit Marling- Sarah
Alexander Skarsgard- Benji
Ellen Page- Izzy
Shiloh Fernandez- Luca
Patricia Clarkson- Sharon

Also stars Toby Kebbell, Aldis Hodge and Jason Ritter.

This is the first movie I've seen Brit Marling in (though have been wanting to see Arbitrage for a while) and I am blown away by her performance. Though relatively unknown, she is gaining momentum and really manages to carry this movie amongst veterans Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page. Marling also co-produced and co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij and is the third time the two have worked together. 

As the poster rightfully quotes, 'The East' is a 'morally complicated, punkishly polished movie'. Dealing with complex themes of corporate greed, morality and justice, not only does the film entertain but the audience are unable to simply sit back and watch without raising questions of their own. 

Led by rising star Brit Marling, who is well supported by Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Shiloh Fernandez and Patricia Clarkson, she carries the movie with a genuine and emotional performance.

This indie thriller is certainly not a box-office smashing Summer blockbuster, but has the depth, tension and gutsy style to be my pick for the best movie this Summer.

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