Sunday 7 July 2013

Review: The East

Year: 2013
Director:  Zal Batmanglij
Screenplay: Brit Marling
Starring: Brit Marling, Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard

Synopsis is here:

A plethora of movies appeared over this weekend; with many either enjoyed the sunshine, the sport or went to one of the more major players. I found myself instead, slinking away to catch the one Friday performance of “small-time” thriller; The East, playing at my local Cineplex. This eco-thriller is the latest project from the combination of writer/actress Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij and it shows a distinct maturity from their last feature The Sound of my Voice.

Where The Sound of My Voice, only really grasped me with Marlings sensual performance, The East is a little stronger with its secondary character’s dynamics. With Marling as lead and stronger actors such as the likes of Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard; the conflicts despite their slightness, still strike harder than the scenes that took place in Batmanglij’s previous cult thriller. In fact here, while not perfect, the film indeed feels more rounded.  

Much like The Sound of My voice, The East deals with another individual going undercover to spy on a marginalised societal group, only to find themselves slowly softening to the plight. Marling may not give Donnie Brasco nightmares but as the undercover operative set in; I admired her Clarice Starling-lite resourcefulness. Marling’s range is impressive, with her straight-laced depiction of Sarah Moss being a 180 from the enigmatic Maggie from when we saw her previously. However she has stronger performances surrounding her here, that she can take from, even though the characters may not be as developed as one may like.

The East is much about the journey than the characters. Its politics important, yet idealistic. The female characters in it are motivated by their own plights than by male attraction.  Batmanglij and Marling are good at capturing the small details. As well as the cast clean up for their “jams” there are lived in moments feel quite true, even when things around them may not.  People have their Airport books, but The East is an airplane movie; doing enough to get you through an uninteresting or tough flight and give you and whoever you’re sitting next to a throwaway apple amount of food for thought.