Friday, 5 July 2013

REVIEW: The East

Brit Marling, indie film sweetheart, is rather adept at capturing the zeitgeist – as demonstrated in her new penned film The East. Working alongside her previous collaborator from Sound of My Voice, Zal Batmanglij, the two obviously mesh well, bringing forth intelligent indie features without too much of an ‘oh-so-cool’ vibe that often drags the genre down. Marling’s previous efforts have looked at environmental issues in Another Earth, cult following in Sound of My Voice,  financial corruption in Arbitrage and now, in the wake of Snowden’s NSA spying revelations, and scandal surrounding the SDS; espionage in The East. She definitely has a knack for capturing the times, and bravo, kudos where its due.

The East sees Marling as Sarah, a bright young thing working for Hiller Brood – a private intelligence security firm which protects the interests of its clientele. Following a surge of well-organised corporate attacks from a shady outfit known only as The East, Sarah is sent undercover as a bohemian free spirit and infiltrates the group, located in a secluded mansion in the woods. Charmed by the weird and wonderful ways of the tight-knit group (eating dinner in straightjackets, bathing each other in the lake), Sarah becomes ever more curious about them, and more specifically, their enigmatic leader Benji, played by Alexander Skarsgård. This group of techno-savvy twentysomethings, with their romantic views and unsettling pasts are the new breed of revolution, but far more sophisticated to the average Joe protestor marching on the streets of London, they are the Anti-Social Network if you like.

Following a well-worn path (but no clichés here), Sarah starts to question the very system she is part of, and as she becomes closer to Benji and the collective, she steers away from her old life and old beliefs. This is Project Anarchy dialled down a few notches, but far more serious. The East is a prevalent examination of ‘deep cover’ rather than terrorist acts – or ‘jams’ as they call them. The role of spy starts to take its toll on Sarah, and at one point she comments that the lines blur, leaving it hard to separate your real self from your undercover self, to step out of one skin and into another. This has been the defence of morally-bankrupt SDS police officers who deemed it OK to sleep around within these organisations, even fathering children, before hightailing out of there. Luckily for us, Sarah isn’t quite so malicious. Her moral compass is spinning out of control, and under Marling’s heavy gaze and porcelain veneer lies a volcano needing to erupt, especially as she recognises the fatal flaw in the fact she can eat three meals a day from rubbish bins and skips, ‘the system is broken’ she notes with a grimace. A hard notion to swallow, and you can’t help feeling she has a point. [3/5]

No comments:

Post a Comment