Movie Review: “The East”- Gives a View to Meditate On

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel July 29, 2013

The East - group

“The East” stars Brit Marling (who also co-wrote the movie), Alexander Skarsgard, and Ellen Page. It also has Ridley and Tony Scott producing. It’s a pretty stacked movie and that’s just the first hint that this under-the-radar indie flick is a must see for the summer.

 “Spy on Us, We’ll Spy on You”

“The East” follows Sarah (Marling), an undercover agent who infiltrates the anarchist group The East. This group attacks eco-terrorists, members and CEO’s of major corporations who poison the environment and injure and kill people and animals alike with their unsafe chemical practices. The movie is from an outsider’s perspective, one from Sarah. She is viewing The East and getting information to track their plans and eventually make arrests. But what happens instead is way more interesting and opens up a dialogue concerning major corporations, their corruption, their anti-environmental practices, and the little guys who need to make a stand against the powerful, rich elite who treat the world as their personal dumping grounds.

 You’ll Be a Convert

This movie follows those who are on the fringe, men and women who have been a part of regular society but have been used and abused by its unsafe, unhealthy, and selfish behavior. As the movie follows Sarah, she gets to know Benji (Skarsgard), Izzy (Page), Doc (Toby Kebbell), and others intimately. She hears these people’s individual horror stories of what brought them to want to fight against the big wigs that had a hand in ruining their lives irreparably. Whenever Sarah enters back into regular society, the disconnect is tangible. It is hard for her to un-see the damage society has done once it is brought to her attention. The movie doesn’t follow any one doctrine. It is not sympathetic to only one side. Sarah acts as the questioner. She questions the motives of The East and their actions. And The East always has an answer. Whether they are right is up to the viewer and what it is they believe in.

the east- video still

Society is Broken

The movie’s content is some of the most intriguing dialogue I’ve seen about fighting terrorism with terrorism. The East is essentially a group of terrorists who terrorize eco-terrorists. It seems counterproductive. But it’s also intriguing because their message about the shameful practices of these corporations would never be heard without extreme action. Nobody listens if you aren’t wealthy and/or powerful. Nobody listens to a viewpoint that isn’t popular. Nobody wants to know the damage they are doing and how horrible it is. It is easier to deny. However, hurting the people who have done these acts is also inappropriate and wrong because it makes them just as bad as the people they want to send a message to.
But this movie shows that these people in The East are not just “terrorists”. In modern society that’s a scary word. But these people are super respectful of other’s choices and of their own identities. They ask permission to touch others or be around them. With such respect for their fellow human, they cannot be bad people. They just want the horrors of the corporations actions exposed and stopped.
With such a divide in opinion of who or what is bad, with such denial of what the corporations are actually doing in our society, the only undeniable thing is that society is broken.

The-East-Page and Marling


The movie’s style is absolutely perfect for the subject matter. With the eyes of CEO’s scratched out in photos, with quick shots of the horror of oil spills, and a creepy soundtrack, the way this movie is shot is reminiscent of a horror style. It’s very suitable considering the fact the movie is trying to show the horrors perpetrated by giant corporations on our environment. Also, with impeccable performances by the whole cast and a snappy script that keeps the movie rolling at a great pace, this movie is fantastic. It opens up a necessary dialogue about the actions of giant corporations and just how negatively everyday people are effected. But is a dialogue enough? Is it action that needs to be taken to get this message that eco-terrorism is just as awful as terrorism against humankind? Go see this movie and make up your mind for yourself. Using the words of The East- you are in control.

My Rating: 9/10

the east movie poster

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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