Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Who's that girl?

Published Thursday, 27 June 2013
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If you haven't heard of Brit Marling, you soon will. The 29-year-old American is a rising star in Hollywood and not just in front of the camera.

For in her latest film, spy thriller The East, Marling is leading lady, producer and screen writer. This is a smart young woman who has decided to skip the superficial roles on offer and create clever parts for herself. So with five further films in production, how does Brit click in her latest flick?

"We are The East," a mysterious group of Eco-warriors declare. "And we are your wake-up call". Suddenly unsafe products are turned against the very CEOs who manufacture them and former FBI agent Sarah Moss (played by Brit Marling) is hired by a powerful intelligence firm to expose the culprits.

"I'm unexpected" Moss tells her new boss "Being unexpected is the only advantage that matters". Emerging from under the covers of her clean cut duvet, this good living gal, dyes her prim brown hair a dirty blonde and takes a walk on the wild side. This involves jumping freight trains, evading hostile cops and eating junk food from dumpsters.

Before long, she has integrated herself into The East, the anarchist faction thought to be responsible for the corporate attacks, and begins to collect evidence against them.

From their cabin in the woods, the Eco-gang attack the rich and avenge the poor while playing spin-the-bottle and skinny dipping in the lake. They are high-tech hippy terrorists, killing with a conscience.

Moss soon finds herself drowning in the murky water of being a double agent. Her sympathies begin to shift to the very people she has set out to destroy. Especially as she falls under the romantic spell of charismatic leader Benji (played by Alexander Skarsgård).

"Getting attached to them is human," she is warned by stone faced handler Sharon (played by Patricia Clarkson). "But do not get soft. If they find out who you really are, they won't give a second thought to your destruction."

Brit is a hit as the female operative who is split in two. Her covert performance twisting and turning from one side to the other keeps us guessing to the end. Juno star Ellen Page also keeps the screen busy as contrary Izzy, the mean green activist, who has her sights set on toppling her fat cat father.

The East is nearly a great thriller, but loses direction in its final third, becoming far too preachy instead of wrenching up the tension. This seems to be the Achilles heel of all environmental movies, an unnecessary oil spill of evangelistic emotion.

But it is certainly topical, exploring the dark underbelly of American capitalism. Marling and her creative partner, director Zal Batmanglij are young talents with a bright future.

And unlike many other summer movies, The East tries to save the world instead of destroying it.

The East (Cert 15) is on general release from Friday 28th June.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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