Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Watch: Say Goodbye To 'Boardwalk Empire' With 30-Minute Doc 'The Final Shot' With Martin Scorsese, Steve Buscemi, More Watch: Say Goodbye To 'Boardwalk Empire' With 30-Minute Doc 'The Final Shot' With Martin Scorsese, Steve Buscemi, More Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Sundance Review: Mike Cahill's Heady, Deeply Moving ‘I Origins’ Starring Michael Pitt & Brit Marling

The Playlist By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist January 20, 2014 at 3:09PM

2011, the year of actress Brit Marling, also introduced the world of cinema to two promising filmmakers: “The Sound Of My Voice” director Zal Batmanglij and “Another Earth” filmmaker Mike Cahill. Marling starred and co-wrote both heady and high concept indie efforts and her rocket soon took off. Fox Searchlight picked up both films and Batmanglij was soon making his intriguing follow-up “The East.” Skeptics were a little less convinced about “Another Earth,” which featured an admittedly excellent concept but was sometimes limited by its budget and presentation in execution. However, those that sensed great promise should be thrilled to see it fulfilled in “I Origins,” Cahill’s powerful Sundance follow-up.
3
I Origins

2011, the year of actress Brit Marling, also introduced the world of cinema to two promising filmmakers: “The Sound Of My Voice” director Zal Batmanglij and “Another Earth” filmmaker Mike Cahill. Marling starred and co-wrote both heady and high concept indie efforts and her rocket soon took off. Fox Searchlight picked up both films and Batmanglij was soon making his intriguing follow-up “The East.” Skeptics were a little less convinced about “Another Earth,” which featured an admittedly excellent concept but was sometimes limited by its budget and presentation in execution. However, those that sensed great promise should be thrilled to see it fulfilled in “I Origins,” Cahill’s powerful Sundance follow-up.

As the proverb goes, “the eyes are the window to the soul,” and that phrase feels like the blowtorch that sets “I Origins” alight for Cahill to investigate notions of spirituality vs. science, coincidence, chance and the unexplained subconscious working behind the curtain of existence. Michael Pitt stars as Ian Gray, a PhD student studying molecular biology with a focus on the eyes; his studies serving as a great metaphor for who may, or may not be, observing us. At a party he meets Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), a cute but mysterious French girl with striking and rare eyes who he asks to photograph (one of ongoing his pet projects). In a burst of inexplicable but powerful connection, they make love and then she vanishes.

I Origins

Consumed with tracking her down, a series of coincidences lead (or guide?) Ian to Sofi, they meet cute and a whirlwind hipster romance begins in Brooklyn, replete with Radiohead songs. (This is far less obnoxious than it sounds and is actually quite beguiling, and sonically you are rewarded later on if you’re paying attention.) The two discover that they are polar opposites with Sofi, an intuitive and spiritual soul, and Ian, a proselytizing believer in hard facts and science. Meanwhile, at school, Ian pores over every facet of genetic maps with his diligent lab intern Karen (Brit Marling). Just as they are on the verge of a significant scientific breakthrough involving giving eyesight to blind worms, Sofi and Ian’s relationship is abruptly cut short.

Fast forward seven years into the future, Ian is now Dr. Ian Gray, has married Karen, and their theories of evolutionary development of the eye have been recognized worldwide. They are expecting their first child, and a series of precautionary autism tests on their son yield the kind of strange and inconsistent results that unlock something deep inside them and challenge their beliefs. In pursuit of the potentially unnerving truth, Ian treks halfway across the globe to India to confront the past with Sofi that is still haunting him.

An intelligent and ambitious adult drama in the vein of a young Christopher Nolan or Danny Boyle, “I Origins” really aspires for something grand, universal and deep, and it often achieves its goal. One could argue the entire picture is an exploration of the disconcerting sensation of déjà vu, and what it all means behind the curtain of the subliminal. Considering ideas of reincarnation, the afterlife and more, “I Origins” is a fascinating examination of belief, spirituality and otherworldliness through the skeptical lens of science, however, it's not always perfect. Some of the faith vs. science themes are a little too on the nose, the transition in relationship isn’t as elegant as it could be and some of the plot conceits—a temporary blindness, a tragedy—are a little contrived and strain suspension of disbelief.

I Origins

But “I Origins” eventually overcomes its occasional not-entirely-convincing elements. While you’re almost watching two different movies, bifurcated by its two lead women, how the two eventually complement each other is very satisfying. A great moody score and a terrific, deeply moving and near awe-inspiring finish scored to Radiohead’s "Motion Picture Soundtrack” may also make you forgive and forget some of the movie’s smaller problems. Additionally, a post-credits sequence only adds to the fascinating intrigue of the picture, consequently putting all similar superhero/tentpole teasers to shame with their banality (though expect some potentially deal-breaking arguments here).

Tackling the big questions of the universe, the secret, silent moments going on behind all things that we sense but cannot explain, “I Origins” is the logical extension of what Cahill did with “Another Earth.” If his debut was an auspicious and intriguing opening shot with an excellent premise that didn’t quite follow through, then “I Origins” is the fully-formed expression of all of Cahill’s ambitious ideas. It also cements him as the real deal; a filmmaker who will hopefully continue to take us to places full of mystery, wonder and awe. [B+]

Browse through all our coverage of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival by clicking here.


This article is related to: I Origins, iOrigins, Michael Pitt , Brit Marling, Mike Cahill, Mike Cahill, Reviews, Review, Sundance Film Festival


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates