You may not yet know about actress and writer, Brit Marling, but she's a rising Hollywood star who has co-written the three movies that she's starred in. Brit is a graduate of Georgetown University, who turned down a job on Goldman Sachs after completing an internship there. She writes scripts so that she can have the kind of roles she wants to play.
Her latest film is THE EAST, an intelligent, thought provoking thriller about a young woman who works for a private espionage company. Her assignment is to infiltrate a group of anarchists who take revenge against corporations that pollute the environment with toxic waste or distribute pharmaceutical drugs that have harmful side effects.
(Voice of an unseen activist): "We are "The East." We don't care how rich you are. We want all those who are guilty to experience the terror of their crimes. Lie to us; we'll lie to you. Spy on us; we'll spy on you. Poison us; we'll poison you. We will counter attack six corporations in the next six months."
That's narration by Ellen page as Izzy, one of the radical members of "The East," a group bent on punishing greedy corporations that put profit ahead of public safety.
Sharon (head of her own espionage company): We need someone to get inside "The East. Who would you choose?
Sarah: Me. I'm unexpected. Being unexpected is the only advantage that matters.
Brit Marling is Sarah, a spy for that private company run by Patricia Clarkson's character.
Sarah goes undercover, first to find "The East" and then to infiltrate the activist group led by Izzy and a man named Benji played by Alan Skarsgard.
The young radicals don't trust Sarah at first, but eventually they come around and she finds herself sympathizing with their views even as she opposes their "eye for an eye" acts of terrorism when they confront corporate criminals.
Izzy (to a group of captive corporate executives): "You create, for a living, toxic chemicals that will outlive us all and you feel nothing. But tonight you will feel something."
At about this same time Sarah learns that her boss is more interested in building her business than in protecting any corporation that's not already among her clients.
Sharon: "I wanna know what the next two jams (attacks) are. Avert those disasters, come out looking like a leader in the intelligence community with two new clients. After that, you can lock them up till middle age."
What makes THE EAST exceptional are the real moral dilemmas Sarah faces which add to the typical suspense and excitement of a well made Hollywood thriller.
I wish more movies were as entertaining and smart as THE EAST.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org