When Jane (Brit Marling), an operative for a private intelligence firm gets assigned to go undercover and join a group known as The East, her world is soon turned upside down. The East is an anarchist group who seek revenge on major corporations who are guilty of crimes against humanity and nature. After dying her hair and claiming the name Sarah, Jane is soon initiated into the group where she meets Luca (Shiloh Fernandez), Izzy (Ellen Page), Doc (Toby Kebbell), and the group’s leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgard), among others. With every meeting, and every deadly tact she experiences with The East, Jane begins to report back to the head of the firm, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson). However, the more she begins to bond with The East, understand them, and see the familial connection they have, as well as fall for Benji, Jane soon begins to question where she stands on their actions.
Directed by Zal Batmanglij, The East is an incredible film that deals with a very big topic in the world today. From the start of the film where we are given a haunting dialogue from Ellen Page about the The East’s intentions, we are brought into a whole new world. When Jane finally becomes part of the group, we start to feel ourselves put into her shoes, as a viewer we watch The East’s actions and their reasoning for it and we start to question if they are justified in their actions or not. Along with this we also become very emotionally attached to the characters in the group as gradually as Jane does. The film also gives us amazing performances by its cast. Brit Marling shines as the lead, she really brings out the self-conflict she is having about where her morals lie, it can all be read in her facial expressions. Alexander Skarsgard known from his True Blood fame, gives his character a sense of mystery, leaving you wanting to know what his story his. But the one who most stands out is Ellen Page as Izzy. Of all the group members, Izzy is the one who has the strongest feelings about what they’re doing, and shows great care about the victims of these corporations, all while harboring a personal secret of her own. Page brings out all of these feelings and throws them right on the table, leaving the viewer to become very close her character.
While the film deals with very big topics, and many may see it as a slam at big corporations. In some instances that may be correct, but more than anything it deals with the stance of where we choose to place ourselves on the topic. We feel just as conflicted as the the protagonist of the story, and as the story unfolds, our stances can gradually become more clear.
With an engaging and interesting concept and story, as well as the terrific performances by its cast, The East is easily one of the best films of 2013.
My rating: 10/10