Monday 22 January 2018

East of an eco Eden

Paul Whitington

Film Review: The East (15A, general release, 116 minutes) 3 STARS

Director: Zal Batmanglij Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Patricia Clarkson, Julia Ormond, Ellen Page

Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice, Another Earth) is a cerebral young actress who seems born to play troubled women.

In The East, an ambitious conspiracy thriller set in the murky underworld of eco terrorism, she plays Sarah Moss, a former FBI agent who now works for a private intelligence company called Brood.

After Sarah's ordered to infiltrate a sinister group called The East, which has been attacking the homes of oil and chemical company bosses in revenge for their environmental neglect, she makes contact with one of the group's operatives.

Led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgard), The East adhere to the principles of 'freeganism' (not washing much, scavenging in bins for food), and live for the chance of avenging themselves on corporate baddies. And though their attacks are becoming ever more extreme, Sarah finds herself sympathising with their cause.

Nicely made on a low budget, The East evokes the great conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s and raises interesting questions about the comportment of multinational companies.

Marling and Zal Batmanglij's script is tense and terse if a little short on humour, and Marling and Ellen Page are very good in meaty opposing roles. But The East is fitfully paced, lacks a real climax and meanders on for a little too long, which is a pity.

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