Movie Review: Spies, lies, ethics mix in a taut 'The East'

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Movies can be a wasteland for actresses looking for challenging or leading roles or both; that is why so many gravitate to television.

Brit Marling, however, has found the perfect solution to this dearth: Co-write, produce and star in films such as "Another Earth," "Sound of My Voice" and "The East."

The 30-year-old here plays a former FBI agent turned spy for an elite private intelligence firm that protects the reputations of its clients. She is assigned to go undercover with an eco-terrorist group that gives corporate criminals a taste of their own medicine.

'The East'

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained

  • Starring:

    Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page.

  • Rating:

    PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content and partial nudity.

Sarah falls in with the anarchist collective sharing a woodsy home in ruins. They dumpster dive for food, live without electricity and other creature comforts and take direction from their unofficial leader (Alexander Skarsgard).

She is drawn to him, even as she is alarmed by the outfit's "jams" or actions that might be considered pranks, were it not for the deadly ramifications. As the stakes are raised, Sarah is forced to decide where her loyalties and love reside.

In addition to Ms. Marling and Mr. Skarsgard, the cast includes Ellen Page as a member of the collective, Patricia Clarkson as Sarah's boss and Julia Ormond as a "jam" target.

Director Zal Batmanglij's "The East," which grows increasingly taut until its hard-to-swallow ending, raises timely questions about holding executives accountable for poisoning waterways or people. Beyond that, what about the ethics of lying and spying -- for corporate or societal good?

No matter what, though, it proves that Ms. Marling continues to take the movie road less traveled but far more intriguing.

Opens today at AMC-Loews at the Waterfront.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:


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