by Naima, published on Monday, July 8, 2013|
Co-written by actress Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij, the aspiring espionage thriller The East, Im sorry to report, is implausible, thin and preachy. The problem is the script which assumes the naivete of its characters is compelling. It purports to question things we take for granted like the responsibility of corporations to the environment and human health: I mean, if it wasnt safe, it wouldnt be happening, right? Christ! Erin Brokovich was over a decade ago, people.
What begs questioning is the culture that develops which allows us to ignore man-made environmental catastrophe en masse, and its more complicated that capitalism alone. Instead, Batmanglij and Marling lead us by the hand as Sarah, a really shoddy double agent (played by Marling), infiltrates far too easily The East, a radical environmental group led by a scruffy Alexander Skarsgard and his overly intense sidekick Ellen Page.
Intent on holding individuals to account for the destructive practices of their businesses. The East want to give them a taste of their own medicine. The films philosophies about individualism and terrorism try to address grey areas but its just not well thought-out enough. Members of The East all have convenient access to the people they seek to destroy, their motivations and back-stories dont account for the clichéd, hippy-ish way they live and their interactions with each other are adolescent and overplayed.
Patricia Clarkson plays Sarahs boss, who uses the intel she provides on to gain more clients for her terrorism prevention service. Stuck between a group whose ideals, if not practices, shes falling for, and job she feels is worth doing, Sarah tries in vein to steer The East away from violence. The ending, when we leave Sarah, in her do-good, self-sacrificing phase having stepped away from her work and The East, is one of the most eye-roll inducing scenes Ive seen this year.
If this is really meant to be an espionage thriller with the audience fearing for the protagonists precarious position, Im not sure the team behind The East know what a thriller is.
Rating: 2 out of 5