Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The East (2013)

Director: Zal Batmanglij

Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Particia Clarkson

More info: IMDb

Plot: Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Having only very recently watched SOUND OF MY VOICE (2011), I was looking forward to seeing what else Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij had in store for this world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.  On the surface these two films share a common thread of someone going undercover into a secretive group (a religious cult and an eco-terrorist organization) and falling in love with their leaders (in SOUND it was a spiritual love vs. a physical love).  I thought THE EAST might disappoint if it follows the same themes too closely.  Fortunately it didn't although one might be able to make a reasonable case for it.

The performances were strong and the picture has some really nice moments (the spin the bottle sequences comes to mind).  Nice score by Halli Cauthery & Harry Gregson-Williams.  But I felt there was something missing from the final act as things came to a head.  I wish I could explain it but I'm not exactly sure what it is.  I'm sure a second watch is all it would take to figure it out but that's not likely to happen since I'm discovering a shit ton of new artists to follow including Marling's & Batmanglij's past (and future) films.

Here's the cast and crew in the Q&A that followed the presentation.


  1. Hey Jim, I just stumbled across your blog today and would like to thank you for your "The East" review. Since the movie stars some really great, talented and good looking actresses (Marling and Page), I'm wondering how "partial" the PG-13 nudity actually is. I'm aware about a scene with Ellen's Izzy showering at a lake, a group bathing, a brief sex scene on the rocks and a funeral with a certain character laying naked on the ground. People's comments varies from "topless" to "nothing explicit" and "only butts". Can you shed some light on this? Thx!

  2. I don't recall anyone getting topless and if they did, it wasn't Marling or Page. If anything there was full backal. I can't remember at this point but what was there wasn't obviously that memorable. It's a good picture. Check it out.