- [Jennifer Epps, who usually gets to the movies a lot quicker than me, also has a review.]
The East has come out on DVD this past week, and home is likely to be the place most people will see it. The film is a mixed bag, some interesting ideas about corporate power and abuse, but ultimately it suffers from a plodding pace and predictability.
Brit Marling’s previous film, The Sound of My Voice, also rambled along at a snail’s pace, and it begs the question if she and her partners in crime are not putting enough plot in to fill up a full-length feature film. It seems The East was better thought out than Voice, but I still felt constrained by budget and limited locations for the middle section of the movie. They linger far too long at an abandoned, ruined house, and it tries your patience.
What’s more, and probably the true deal breaker, The East group never really sold me that it was genuine. This anarchist cult seemed more like Hollywood’s version of a rebel movement, and a lot of obligatory moments and forced on the nose dialogue kept me at arm’s length. Wearing your movement on your sleeve is a sign of bad writing, lacking subtext, and the film seemed to veer this way and that, but kept taking me out of the story with forced bits of dialogue.
The major “jam,” targeting one of the member’s fathers, also felt so contrived and given short shrift that it sunk the film at the moment things should have escalated to the next level up. That sequence failed, and it felt like not enough thought had been put into the entire film. As Kirsten said, “It fizzled at the end.”
Not sure the end is where it fizzled, but yes there is an anti-climactic wrap-up that should have been staged better. The larger ideas clicked at the ending, but the execution not so much.
The East could have been a much grittier, more raw tour de force, and it probably should have been. Instead there is a cleanliness, a neat pat style that works against the film. It far too easily mingles at luxury parties and corporate headquarters. That was one of the film’s points, but it tainted the rest of the movie, which lacked realism and authenticity. I never bought, for a second, that I was watching anything other than actors reading lines.
Take from that what you will. The East, a victim of its own slick production and budget, perhaps amounting to anarcho-exploitation rather than any meaningful examination of corporate crimes against humanity.