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The East

by Leonard Maltin
May 31, 2013 12:05 AM
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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. 

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  • Daniel Delago | June 24, 2013 7:20 AMReply

    Definitely going to review 'The East' this week. Interesting you point out the low-key ending. Although I liked her sci-fi drama, 'Another Earth' that film also lacked a dramatic ending but you overlook it since Brit Marling is such a fresh new voice in the indie world.

  • Jim Reinecke | June 3, 2013 9:05 PMReply

    This may be worth seeking out as I find Ms. Marling to be a very intriguing and fresh young talent. ANOTHER EARTH was, for me, a wonderful, dream-like experience that I've revisted three times since my original viewing (even if it did overlook a few trivial items like the effect of another planet of the same size in such close proximity to Earth in terms of ocean currents and other such arcane details!). Keep digging up these hidden gems for us, Leonard. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention a title correction for the upcoming Movie Guide that recently came to my attention; I realize that you and Ms. Carson and the rest of your team are coming up to deadline time but maybe I can sneak this one in under the wire. The rather disappointing 1973 sequel to BLACULA (even if the always interesting Pam Grier was the leading lady, it was still a letdown after the enjoyable original) has no punctuation in the title as it appears onscreen. So it can be reliably listed simply as SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM without the two commas and exclamation point.

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