Movie Maestro’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Life is beautiful. Let future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full." - Leon Trotsky
Having just finished watching this film I still don't think everything about it has quite resonated with me. It's still sinking in, but I can say that it has had a profound impact on me. The film definitely makes a statement and is as thrilling and powerful, as it is thought-provoking.
The team of Zal Batmanglij (co-writer/director) and Brit Marling (co-writer/actress) pair once again to make movie magic, this time for The East. The two also collaborated up to make Sound of My Voice in 2011. Brit Marling is quickly proving that she is a talented writer and actress, and while her films may not be commercially successful yet, they have received much critical acclaim. I truly cannot wait to see what these two come up with next. I am stunned that their work has not gained commercial success yet, however they are due. Perhaps their third film will be a charm?
So what is The East about? Well, Marling plays an undercover operative (Sarah) for a private intelligence firm, which is kind of like a CIA-for-hire and their clients are typically major corporations, such as pharmaceutical companies. She is assigned to infiltrate an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks on major corporations.
This anarchist group, which is called The East, strangely resembles a cult, and with every cult a charismatic leader is needed to charm his followers. This group's clear leader is Benji (Alexander Skarsgård).
Why this group is called The East is never clearly state, however one may assume that they are called The East as an antithesis to the capitalist west. This group is about as anti-corporate America as you can get.
This film is filled with a talented cast, including the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, and Toby Kebbell. And while all the performances in this film are solid, the hero of this film is the writing. Marling and Batmanglij script is a bit of a slow burn that both thrills and draws you in as you cannot help but root for this radical group of not so law abiding citizens. And therein lies the dilemma for Sarah.
Of all the films I have seen this year, this may actually be full of the most substance. While most of the films this year are just full of Hollywood fluff, this is actually a film that means something, says something, and actually matters. Not that I don't like fluff every now and then. I'm not one to turn down cotton candy, but too much sugar is unhealthy, and this film is much more green, and much more healthy. This film is the theatrical equivalent to eating your vegetables. So don't avoid watching this film. Actually, you better watch this, or you may not get your desert!