“The East,” which releases to Blu-ray on Sept. 17, teaches us one thing: if you are disgusted with the system, you have to do illegal stuff in order to get your voice heard. Of course, those who have been following current events know that with the group Anonymous – a group who blasts the information of certain people (corrupt CEOs, Fred Phelps, etc.) all over the Internet, so other wannabe anarchists can send them nasty letters. Yeah, like that’s going to do anything.
For the record, the Chico Move Examiner treats every movie equally – whether its target is on one side of the aisle or the other. All political feelings were put aside before watching the Blu-ray of “The East.” It’s too bad the movie couldn’t put aside its political feelings. It’s a pretentious and smug film with no coherent position; no development; and no absolute resolution.
Sarah (Brit Marling) is an undercover operative who is assigned to investigate a group known as The East. This group has been attacking corrupt CEOs for their careless acts against humanity and the environment. As Sarah gets to know more about the group, she becomes close to them – which leads to her thinking twice about her political position and her employment with the firm.
And that’s where the focus of the story gets lost. There are times where we’re not sure if director Zal Batmanglij wants the viewer to root for Sarah, or if he wants the viewer to root for the people of The East. Being on Sarah’s side is easy, for the most part, but being able to side with The East is extremely difficult.
If people have hurt you or someone you know, it’s OK to hurt them back. That’s practically the motto of this group of revolutionists. Some company’s drug has a bad side effect; let’s give them a taste – literally – of their own medicine. Some town’s water has arsenic, and it’s this company’s fault; let’s kidnap the two responsible and attempt to throw them in the nearest lake.
The disappointing thing about “The East” is that there is a lot of potential for it, but a lot of it has been done before. Batmanglij creates a good-looking film, has an excellent score to go along with it, and casts the right people for the roles, including Marling, Alexander Skarsgard (TV’s “True Blood”) and Ellen Page (“Juno”). But it’s hard to find a likable trait for a lot of these characters.
“The East” takes the “Dances with Wolves” approach by having Sarah see their side of the story and understanding why they are doing this. And, yes, she even falls in love with one of the members.
For a movie that deals with anger and confusion that is being felt amongst the general public, it’s ironic that it comes across as confusing and it could make certain viewers angry. Yes, there are bad people in the world, and something needs to be done. But doing what the people in “The East” do is not the route to take.
The sound and picture on “The East” Blu-ray are both superb.
The special features are all short. There are many behind-the-scenes clips that ran in theaters across the nation – including a Q&A with Marling and Batmanglij. There is also four minutes worth of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending.