Monday, June 17, 2013

my review of the east, or: hot sexy dumpster divers

The East opens with Jane (Brit Marling, my semi-new crush) fingering a crucifix charm that hangs from her neck, asking God for strength, courage and humility. She’ll need all three when Sharon (Patricia Clarkson, my longtime semi-crush) recruits her to spy on the titular group of eco-activists. Toward the end of the movie, after she’s seen the evil done by the East’s corporate targets and sipped their Kool-Aid, she says a similar prayer. But this time the charm hanging from her necklace is a paper clip, the same one she used to pick a lock when she was handcuffed for riding the rails with fellow activist Luca (Shiloh Fernandez, my new crush because I love a boy in eyeliner).

I'll bring the blindfold, you bring the eyeliner.
I guess you could read that as a transition from mainstream morality (or lack thereof) to radical lefty morality, but I think the movie’s real message is one of self-determination and critical thinking. I.e., you have to pick the lock of whoever and whatever is confining you. All ideologies are not created equal; the East at its worst is better than their target corporations at their best. But Jane is too smart just to become another loyal follower of East leader Benji (Alexander Skargard, whom I find cuter without facial hair). So her solution is my favorite kind: the third thing.

The movie, like the other two Brit Marling co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij and starred in, is interested in the intersection of loyalty and ethics. I love it for that; for the way it believes in morality even as it lays out all its complications. It reads like a movie made by very smart, hopeful-but-cynical-but-hopeful young people, which it is.

AK said, “I liked it, but even though it was well made, it still felt like a student film sometimes. Like, in certain scenes you can see the strings, you know what I mean?”

I do. Maybe that’s why I was riveted but not quite moved. It made me want to want to be an activist more than it made me want to be an activist. Members of the East dumpster dive as a means of sustenance and as a political statement about waste, and it did make me want to be less wasteful (always with the easy personal behavior route!). More so in the scene where they ate donuts out of the trash than the scene where they ate a browning apple.

Drink the Kool-Aid, spin the bottle.
I have a crush on Ellen Page too, but only on screen, because in real life I think she’s the size of a hummingbird. Oh, and I also have a crush on this punky, dark-eyed girl from the train scene who’s on screen for like one minute.

Of course I ended up going to the bathroom during the scene where everyone started making out with everyone.


Amy (Kid-FreeLiving) said...

I was wondering about this movie, thanks for the review! I think everyone has a little crush on Ellen Page. She's got something.

Cheryl said...

Something like brainsfacecutequeervoice. BTW, I love your blog!