The East

The East ★★½

Brit Marling is a woman who has certainly caught my attention. As both a writer and actress she is willing to go that extra mile and her performances in both Another Earth and Sound Of My Voice showed a composure and confidence rarely seen in relative newcomers. Teaming up again with co-writer Zal Batmanglij for this insight into the world of eco-terrorism, it shows the lengths some people will go to to enlighten the population about major corporations corruption. As a member of a private intelligence firm, Marling's character attempts to infiltrate a group known as "The East". Having already caused havoc with high profile "Jams" against an oil company, the tightly knit group has a drug company lined up as their next target. Marling ditches the corporate suit and hobos up to fit in and after establishing contact tries her luck with some local drifters. Feigning injury she just happens to be taken to their safe house.The back-story of why some of the members have joined this anarchist group are loosely incorporated into the plot, but it all feels just too cliched. Living in a squat, eating out of dustbins, and with former rich kids who have apparently seen the errors of their ways leading the gang, it smacks of being a little too preachy. Everyone knows there are corporations out there with no morals and dangerous agendas but has extremism ever really worked?
With a cast that included Ellen Page and Patricia Clarkson as well as Marling, this did appeal to me. The intriguing premise and the social commentary do make you ask questions but the ending here seemed like a bit of a cop out. The first half of the film is tension heavy and is built up brilliantly but loses its way as Marling gets deeper involved. Underrated actor Toby Kebbell was the highlight for me with another of those troubled performances he's so good at but the film just lacked that punch that would make it memorable.

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