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East, The


Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Patricia Clarkson, Jason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Jamey Sheridan

Director: Zal Batmanglij

Sarah (Marling), an agent for a private intelligence firm, goes undercover to infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists called The East, who run what they call 'jams' against companies who have been peddling risky drugs, polluting water and the suchlike.

They turn out to be a clichéd bunch who live in a sort of hippie commune at a rundown house in the woods, hug each other at group circles, wash each other in a nearby lake and eat food scavenged from bins and dunmpsters.

Why do such people always have to be portrayed as weirdos? If they were 'suits' who moved among us, it would be a darn sight scarier.

At any rate, Sarah naturally becomes entangled with the fortunes of the group, leaning more and more to their point of view, and having sex with their leader (Skarsgard). Again, it would be more suspenseful if she remained unsympathetic to their causes. As it is, this is the kind of film where you could close your eyes and listen to the (occasional) dialogue and not miss any of the narrative.

Performances are pretty much par for the course, but, as an eco-exposé, the film never grips in the manner of, say Erin Brockovich.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by deluxe.
116 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Jun 2013