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Sundance '13 Review - THE EAST - Eco Terrorist Spy Thriller

The East

Director: Zal Batmanglij

Screenwriters: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling

Producers: Tony Scott and Ridley Scott

Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, and Patricia Clarkson

Official Synopsis: Someone is attacking big corporate CEOs and forcing them to consume harmful products they manufacture. An elite private intelligence firm is called into action and contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible. Skilled, focused, and bent on success, Sarah goes undercover and dedicates herself to taking down the organization. She soon finds, however, that the closer she gets to the action, the more she sympathizes with the group’s charismatic leaders.

Story and Direction: 

I'm all for protecting the environment and trying to keep the world we live in a safe and beautiful place, but I would never do anything to hurt someone to do it, even though there are several people and corporations out there that couldn't care less about the people they hurt. The story centers on woman who infiltrates an eco terrorist organization called The East that lives by the motto, "An eye for an eye." The group sets up Fight Club type missions to hurt those people responsible for hurting others. The catch is they inflict the corporate assholes in the film with the same ailments that they've created that have hurt other people. It's really a great type of revenge story where bad people literally get a taste of their own medicine.

I thought the movie was great, and it was one of the few films I've seen at the festival that got an ovation at the end. I liked the intensity of the story, which was well crafted. The movie is kind of predictable though, I pretty much knew what was around every corner, but it was still executed extremely well, so it didn't really bother me that I knew what was coming. It was one of those things where I was just looking forward to seeing how those scenes would play out.

There's definitely an audience for this film, and I fit right in it. I watch a lot of interesting documentaries about some of the crazy pollutants, drugs and chemicals being dumped into our world, and it sucks to see that corporations will do whatever it takes to NOT fix the problems they are responsible for, but they will do everything they can to fight to keep screwing over the people they hurt. It's crazy and sad, but there's a right way and a wrong way for people to fight back, and this movie explores those options.

The movie comes from the same director that brought us 2011's cult film, Sound of My Voice. He did a great job not only directing the film, but the acors as well. 

Performances:

The performances in the film were fantastic. This is the second time that Brit Marling has teamed up with Batmanglij, as they both worked together in his first film Sound of My Voice. I do have to say I enjoyed her performance a lot more in this film, probably because the character was so much more interesting. Some of the other stand out performances in the film included Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, and Shiloh Fernandez, who all play characters in the terrorist group. Then there's Patricia Clarkson who plays Marling's boss. They were all great, and the characters they play are different from anything you've seen them in before. There are a lot of intense scenes in the film that couldn't have been pulled off with bad acting. Luckily, they were able to pull off the characters they played perfectly. 

Similar To:

I'd have to say the the movie is most similar to Fight Club, only there's someone undercover in the group looking to take them down. 

Chances You'll See It In Theaters:

The movie is being distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, so you can bet it's going to get a decent theatrical release. When it does come out, I suggest you check it out. I think you're going to like this one. 

Trailer:

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