June 19, 2013

Movie Review: The East

Have you seen The East? It does not seem like many people have. The studio indie reached a small spread of theaters this past weekend. I had seen the trailer in theaters a few times in recent weeks and I have to say, I was intrigued. Sure, it looked like it was going to be a pro-Eco message movie, but the trailer and its pro terrorism slant was presented in an interesting fashion. So, off I went, I saw the movie, and saw something very different than what was advertised.

To be sure, I feel like this movie does have something to offer. There is something to be said about the anarchist spirit at play within the terrorist group, the personal interactions between them, and the eschewing of accepted social norms (perhaps to be read as pretentiousness), still, the whole thing just feels flat. I went in sort of expecting a rougher edged lecture movie, not unlike Promised Land, and ended up with an Eco-Donnie Brasco. Quite frankly, I was bored and did not care for the way the story flowed, an odd mix of studio and indie feature.

The movie centers on Sarah (Brit Marling, who also wrote the screenplay), a former FBI agent who as taken a job with a corporate security firm. Her mission is to go undercover and gather intel with Eco-terrorist group simply known as The East. The endgame is to find out what they are up to and head off any potential attacks.

We follow her as she pretends to be a wandering backpacker who gets brought into their 'freegan' society at an abandoned cabin in the woods, eating discarded food and listening to the musings of their leader, Benji (Aleander Skarsgarde). Also there are Izzy (Ellen Page) and Doc (Toby Kebbell). They have their anti-corporate meetings and plan their jams and play spin the bottle for hugs and kisses, all while Sarah gets drawn into their lifestyle.

The movie just felt like it meandered along without really doing much of anything. There are scenes out of convenience, like the satellite tv revealed to be in the basement, things just happen, like the regrouping at the old house after a time of being away (how did anyone know? It's not like they were Facebook friends), and the way some characters are barely used, appearing as little more than props (Patricia Clarkson and Jason Ritter).

This may be a result of the movie not matching up with what I was hoping it would be, resulting on my unfair dislike. What can I say? It happens sometimes. I hoped for something perhaps a touch preachy, but a little edgy, a little subversive, and interesting. The East is nothing like that, it is an undercover story where the agent falls for the person they are spying on, a little Stockholm Syndrome, and while it may ave some interesting window dressing, it does not make up for the movie being rather humdrum.

Not Recommended.

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