This isn’t academic writing, maybe not strictly film journalism, and there’s little trace of a style guide; it’s a conversation or random musings upon the stories that have us talking. They can arrive at any time, but when they do please join the conversation. They are FIW THOUGHTS.
Words: Brody Rossiter
EAST OF EDEN
Thanks to an overpriced Sky Movies subscription I was able to stream The East one evening and the following afternoon this week. Director Zal Batmanglij’s (best surname ever?) 2013 thriller follows Sarah (Brit Marling), an anti-terrorist operative who specialises in counteracting home-grown eco-terrorist cells, as she infiltrates the mysterious group known as The East.
Essentially the picture is a tightly wound spy flick that, as with any good spy/corporate espionage film (Three Days of the Condor, The Firm), challenges the viewer to empathise with its lead character’s plight and re-examine their own personal beliefs in the process; a welcome trope which The East accomplishes through its meditative focus upon Sarah and her new double-life – precariously balanced between the boardroom and the wildness. The narrative felt fresh and urgent, the picture’s depiction of eco-terrorism versus corporate America treaded new ground from a storytelling standpoint (at least from my perspective) and managed to sustain its ingenuity throughout.
You’re confronted with an action-thriller reminiscent of Enemy of the State, and Point Break, only with a much more thoughtful thread running throughout. The core eco-terrorism exposition is a high-octane plot vehicle as opposed to a commentary upon corporations (the wrongdoings which The East rebel against feel far-fetched, we’re aware that big-business is often corrupt, just not this downright dastardly) but nevertheless it’s by no means a thoughtless throwaway movie, but rather a misty, cathartic fairy-tale of unwashed knights and suited-up villains set in a polluted contemporary kingdom.
The cast is strong and possesses much depth; notable names include Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Patricia Clarkson, and obviously Marling. From a completely subjective POV I found Brit Marling’s hair somewhat hypnotizing, as a matter of fact, the majority of the cast are rockin’ grungy locks and plaid ensembles at some stage or another – but follicles aside their performances, back-stories, and resolutions are truly noteworthy and engaging.
The East is definitely worth two hours of your time any day of the week. It’s good-looking, precise, and economical filmmaking that not only serves its purpose for entertaining but also makes you invest a great deal of yourself in its characters and their thick, lustrous, inexplicably buoyant hair.