The East (image 1)

A thinking-person’s Bourne Identity, as pointed in its questions as it is slick in its thrills.

San Francisco International Film Festival

Screened as part of NZIFF 2013

The East 2013

Directed by Zal Batmanglij

A corporate spy infiltrates a group of eco-activists in this espionage thriller from Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice). “The kind of rock-solid intelligent entertainment that has become all too rare.” — Film Comment

USA In English
115 minutes CinemaScope / DCP

Director

Producers

Ridley Scott
,
Michael Costigan
,
Jocelyn Hayes-Simpson
,
Brit Marling

Screenplay

Zal Batmanglij
,
Brit Marling

Photography

Roman Vasyanov

Editors

Andrew Weisblum
,
Bill Pankow

Production designer

Alex DiGerlando

Costume designer

Jenny Gering

Music

Halli Cauthery

With

Brit Marling (Sarah)
,
Alexander Skarsgård (Benji)
,
Ellen Page (Izzy)
,
Toby Kebbell (Doc)
,
Shiloh Fernandez (Luca)
,
Julia Ormond (Paige)
,
Patricia Clarkson (Sharon)
,
Jason Ritter (Tim)
,
Aldis Hodge (Thumbs)
,
Danielle Macdonald (Tess)
,
Hillary Baack (Eve)

Festivals

Sundance, San Francisco 2013

“In last year’s Sound of My Voice two documentarians posing as prospective new members secretly spy on a self-professed time-traveling cult leader played by the film’s co-screenwriter, Brit Marling. The roles are reversed in The East, Marling’s second collaboration with director Zal Batmanglij: she is now the undercover investigator. As a new recruit at a private-sector intelligence agency, ‘Sarah’ is tasked with infiltrating the titular eco terrorist group. This entails coming up with a smooth way into their world – and the fact that she accomplishes this with improbable ease is probably less indicative of what a pro she is than of the film’s desire to keep the action speeding along (it does, after all, list both Ridley and Tony Scott as producers).

The East’s modus operandi is to give morally reprehensible corporations a taste of their own medicine. Sarah isn’t necessarily opposed to the group’s agenda, which is rather noble (and, in several cases, personally motivated). Yet even though she’s not on board with their choice of actions, her gradual bonding with the group – and ringleader Benji (an impressive Alexander Skarsgård), in particular – is convincingly handled. (The alluring Marling deserves much of the credit for this.) 

The East may not have the rough charm of Sound of My Voice (serious budget inflation has a way of doing that), but the film, if you can temporarily suspend disbelief, is still the kind of rock-solid intelligent entertainment that has become all too rare. Keep ’em coming, Zal and Brit!” — Laura Kern, Film Comment