This is the third project from writer/producer/ actor Brit Marling and her second collaboration with director Zal Batmanglij.
Former FBI agent Sarah (Brit Marling) now works as an agent for a private firm. She is sent undercover to spy on an eco-terrorist group called The East lead by Benji (Alexsander Skarsgard) and Izzy (Ellen Page). However she soon finds herself sympathising with the enemy and find her loyalties being tested.
One of the film’s failings is that although the characters are interesting we don’t get too deep into them and I’m not sure I cared about most of their reasons for committing the acts they do. The most sympathetic character is Toby Kebbell (from tv series Black Mirror best episode –The Entire History of You) as Doc, whose motives for joining The East are heartbreaking.
I also found the character of Sarah a bit hard to figure out (which I suppose is good for a corporate spy). I guess I wanted to see what happened in her past to make her choose this career. Her attraction to leader Benji is also underwhelming. It’s odd becuase both actors are fine in their roles with Skarsgard a charismatic (and hot) leader but the chemistry between them is a bit flat. I wasn’t sure it was enough to contemplate Sarah switching sides. Once again Ellen Page shows she’s a great actress but she seems a bit wasted in her role of Izzy depsite a few good scenes. Although Marling is fine in the main role of Sarah at times I wondered if it would been better to switch Page and Marling’s roles? After all who would expect the youthful Page of being a corporate spy?
Then there’s the ending. I thought the film would end with more of a punch. Instead it feels like a compromise. Although its different then going for the usual Hollywood ending, I was disapointed when the ending wasn’t as explosive or angry as I hoped for.
The East doesn’t feel as inspiring as it should be or as clever as it hopes to be. Although it was engaging while it was on screen it doesn’t linger in the mind long after leaving the cinema, which considering the subjects the film hopes to inspire, is unfortunate.
However the message about our environment is admirable and trying to promote discussion is always good, and it is thrilling while you’re watching it. One to watch on dvd.
Rating 3/5-Triple Threat Brit Marling is one talent to watch out for in the future.