Telling the story of eco-terrorists and their revenge on big corporations, The East is compelling, complex and completely believable.
Co-written by its star Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij, The East follows Marling’s Sarah, an up-and-coming agent within a private security company who searches to go undercover with eco-terrorist group, The East, who have been exacting their revenge on larger corporations for their inhumane treatment of the planet and its creatures.
The concept is a fresh version on typical action films and turns the focus from the people hunting to the motivations of the morally ambiguous eco-terrorists. Brit Marling carries the film and the audience understands her point of view throughout the film as we’re drawn into the world that her cover draws. We begin to sympathise with the eco-terrorists as the film contorts within the boundaries of right and wrong – dealing almost explicitly with the idea that two wrongs do not make a right.
The use of silence in the film was very effective, often instead of blaring music to emphasise a point, the director employed silence to allow the audience to take in the action. Despite this being an ensemble film, every character has been explored – although greater depth to explain why they’re all part of The East group, the film was coming up on 2 hours as it was so any further explanation would’ve simply been too much.
Whilst the story was gripping and hit home within the context of today’s world, the group’s attacks on the larger corporations (or ‘jams’) were a little sparse leaving the viewer feeling like they’ve watched more a character study than a truly satisfying thriller.
On the whole, the film provides a welcome break from typical convention and manages to maintain a high level of interest throughout however with only a few tense scenes within, it leaves a more downplayed feeling than it could have.