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The East

The East

What She said:

She

One topic that I can honestly say I haven't given much thought to is underground anarchist cults.  I guess the better question is, who does?  Well, with some of the crazy stuff going down in the news these days, I guess it's worth considering what sorts of radical groups are out there. And that's exactly what The East is about. 

The movie is an exploration of one such cult, as presented though the eyes of an outsider, Sarah Moss.  Sarah is a former FBI agent who now works for a private security firm.  She's been tasked with infiltrating the East, a domestic anarchist group that has been accused of several attacks on big corporations. Their actions are, of course, politically motivated, as the East seeks to expose the companies for the wrongs they are doing.  Sarah seems to be fairly straightlaced, a good girl who says her prayers before bed at night.  At first, living amongst the outlandish hippies of the East comes as a shock; she can hardly handle it.  But she knows her directive and continues to stick it out, reporting the cult's secrets and plans back to her employer.  But before long, Sarah begins to soften to the group and its brooding leader, Benji.  Sarah begins to question her moral platform, who she really stands behind, and what actions are best for the greater good. 

The East

The East is, for the most part, fascinating to watch.  There are moments that feel a little cheesy and b-level, but overall it's interesting to watch and wait to see what Sarah will do next.  The people of the East are complete weirdos, as you can imagine, in every stereotypical way possible.  They don't shave regularly, believe in alternative medicine, live without, and yes, they practice free love.  But their political foundations, while also fairly stereotypical, may make you think a little. I still came to the conclusion that they were a bunch of under-bathed crazies, but they have their motivations.  In that sense, the viewer will feel a lot like Sarah, as she tries to make her mind up about everything she encounters.  Yes, The East, has its moments of Lifetime Channel soapiness, and the film also exploits Alexander Skarsgard's body, as can also be expected, but I still didn't find it to be too bad.  I should mention that Ellen Page is in this movie.  Her character is not an afterthought or anything, but I found her mildly annoying, and so I'm trying to look past her.

For a while, this film feels a little like it's standing on a soapbox, making its statement, but the ending seems to clarify its position, and I liked that.  It helped to keep things from being too predictable, and honesty, at that point I thought I'd be able to call all the major plot turns in this movie.  I was wrong.  Not that this film is too imaginative or innovative--it's not--but it attempts to challenge the viewer a little, and I respect that.
Overall, I pretty much enjoyed this movie, despite some of its bizarreness. 

Thumbs mostly up.

 

What He said:

He

As I write this review, the boobs in Washington are on the verge of another government shutdown. It’s just the latest round of “who has a bigger one” that seems to be growing more-and-more popular in the nation’s capital. I am also well aware of the ramifications of shipping too many jobs overseas and allowing corporations to go unchecked. All of that being said, I’m not anti-government, capitalism, or consumerism like the antagonists in this movie.

The East

The  East is about a Sarah Moss, former FBI agent who is now working for private intelligence firm. Sarah’s (Brit Marling) first mission is to infiltrate a radical group of activists, who may or may not even exist. The East (the name of the group) are ecological terrorists who are against corporate greed, especially when it leads to toxic waste, dangerous medications, and other stuff that is generally bad for the public and/or the environment.

Sounds like a noble enough cause, right?  I would never call myself a hippie, tree-hugger, or something along those lines, but I can definitely say for sure that I care about wildlife, the environment, and man’s effect on both. To me, it’s very simple. You take care of your house, right? If you have a hole in the roof, you call a roofer. If you have pests, you call an exterminator. The same logic should be applied to our Earth, which is also our home. It’s our planet, we only have one, so why not take care of it? It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s just common sense.

The East

The problem with The East is they are a group of radicals who resort to tactics as bad – if not worse – than the companies they take umbrage with. For example, there is one part of the movie where the members of The East expose the big wigs of a pharmaceutical company to their own drugs, which has some pretty bad side effects. Is there a small part of me that thinks they deserve it? Yeah. If you create a product with no regards for other people’s safety and your only concern is money, that’s unethical and immoral. It’s inexcusable. So does seeing people like that get their comeuppance seem slightly justified? Yeah, it does. But it’s just not the way to get your message across. Moral and ethical issues aside, it’s completely counterproductive. You aren’t going to get the right people on your side acting that way. You’re not going to punish people committing criminal acts against other people and the environment, but simply draw negative attention to yourself.

So anyway, as Sarah infiltrates this group and gets to know more about them, their cause, and their targets, she starts to understand why they do what they do. She sees how these companies have no regards for the environment or the safety of the general public and it disgusts her. So what’s she going to do? Expose The East or side with them? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, and Patricia Clarkson lead the way in this thriller. Brit Marling was a little robotic, but I got the vibe the character as a little stoic, if not cold. Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page lead the way as the leaders of the radical group. I thought they were both solid in their roles. Patricia Clarkson plays Sarah’s boss and she is one of those morally questionable characters, which ironically is who her firms hunts. I thought she played her role quite well.
Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on September 29, 2013.  

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