Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The East

Leonard Maltin By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin May 31, 2013 at 12:05AM

Two years ago, Brit Marling was the talk of Sundance: a newcomer with two movies in competition which she co-wrote and costarred in.
2

Photo By Miles Aronowitz – Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Films
Photo By Miles Aronowitz – Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Films
Two years ago, Brit Marling was the talk of Sundance: a newcomer with two movies in competition which she co-wrote and costarred in. She’s doing double-duty again in an intriguing new thriller called The East.

Patricia Clarkson recruits Marling to join her top-secret private intelligence firm and sends her undercover to join an eco-terrorist group called The East, run by Alexander Skarsgård. This low-key collective plays dirty tricks on corporations that are polluting the environment and manufacturing drugs with dangerous side effects.

Of course, the built-in problem with embedding yourself in a close-knit group like this is that you get to know its members as people; that makes it tough to remain aloof and stay on-course. Marling and her co-writer and director Zal Batmanglij explore this subject with intelligence and feeling for the ethical and moral issues involved. The East is an involving, often exciting drama with good parts for Marling, Skarsgård, Clarkson, Ellen Page, and Toby Kebbell.

Another filmmaking team could have taken the same material and played it more dramatically; it’s the lack of Hollywood slickness that I admired most about The East. The ending is a bit low-key, but has staying power, and that matters more, to my way of thinking. 

This article is related to: Film Reviews, Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Zal Batmanglij, The East, Patricia Clarkson