The East

The East ★★★★

Brit Marling is officially three for three in my book. After first seeing the actress and writer in director Mike Cahill's 2011 film Another Earth it was not necessarily her acting skill that was intriguing, but the way in which she gravitated towards projects. Yes, she was good at playing guarded and mysterious, but she was also able to invoke a sense of real intensity that continues to carry through not only the characters she plays, but the films she has a hand in making. Last years Sound of My Voice paired her with friend and director Zal Batmanglij to produce one of my favorite films of 2012 while reassuring me and everyone else that science fiction didn't have to necessarily be big, bold new worlds and fantastic technology to be engaging, but it simply had to have a precise goal and Sound of My Voice was a film very specific in what it wanted to accomplish and did so with a perfect balance of mystery and intrigue. while I completely adore that film and was happy to see Marling re-team with Batmanglij again this year I was thankful they weren't treading the same ground, but were instead moving on to different subject matter completely while still looking to strike up a conversation. With The East these two young, but equally wise artists bring our attention to moral dilemmas. Though the film will grab you in advertisements by purporting to be a slick espionage thriller that follows a rookie agent on her first assignment there is so much more to the film than this generic sounding synopsis. The film is ultimately about deciding what is worth doing that many see as wrong for the greater good of what you believe is right. That is the purpose of the titular-named group that Marling's protagonist Sarah is pulled into and while we certainly expect her to make some type of connection with these people who genuinely feel they have to do these wrong things for the right reasons it comes as a surprise where Sarah ends up going on the arc this movie gives her. There is a balance here that doesn't lean too far in one direction so as to present a slanted view, but in all earnestness wants to create a big picture while getting the small details right in order to make it feel as honest as possible.

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