EIFF: Day 1

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The East: ****
US/ Director Zal Batmanglij / 116mins

 

Brit Marling’s makes her second film with director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij with an original thought provoking political thriller.

 

Sarah is a private intel spy sent to undercover among to find a gang of anti-corporate terrorists. She finally infiltrates the hippie terrorist commune headed by Benji (Alexander Skarsgård).
Sarah soon ends up having the group’s trust & helps them with their plots.

 

Marling and Batmanglij have made an intriguing and original premise about the problems with capitalism.

 

The filmmakers have enlisted a fantastic bunch of actors to the mixture. Ellen Page plays the usual tomboy with attitude character, Skarsgård is the mysterious unconcerned leader of the group, while Toby Kebbell brings heart and soul to the piece as the caring and tortured Doc. However it seems a strange decision to make Shiloh Fernandez’s character look like a Johnny Depp impersonator.

 

Batmanglij composes each scene with close ups and tight shots which gives the film a claustrophobic, but more personal experience. There are no bright lit backgrounds or colours, but dull monotonous shades which gives a 1970’s movie feel.

 

The plot has a slow pace, but never feels long or dragged out. It is similiar in tone to The Purge. Unfortunately
The story becomes convulted predictable and cliched within the third act. When Sarah’s arc becomes more about romance and giving a rather pointless lecture to her boss.

 

However the movie has enough drive going for it to be an enjoyable, tense and intelligent piece of cinema.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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