The East is a great thriller, one of the finest in years, because it’s politically driven and idealistically torn between what’s morally right and the truth. Brit Marling has established herself as one of the best actresses working today, first with the very effective Another Earth and then her excellent follow-up Sound of My Voice, which she collaborated on with Zal Batmanglij. He co-writes and directs here in his superb second feature, which follows a young CIA operative (Marling) being pushed into the eco-terrorism group known as the East. It’s headed by the mysterious Benji (Alexander Skarsgård), who works with Izzy (Ellen Page) and many others in taking down corporations that have wronged them. The brilliance of the film stems from how it doesn’t ask us to agree with their beliefs; sometimes they’re extremists, other times they’re fighting for what’s morally right. This ties the film down and makes for a genuinely exciting experience, because it’s unpredictable but not implausible, emotional but not melodramatic, and fluid but not fast-paced. It’s calculated and methodical.
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