“… very one-note; and unfortunately that note is “boring”.”
Back when it was first released I watched the very divisive Netflix show ‘The OA’, and I really liked it. Upon further research I found that the team behind The OA (Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij) had made a few movies before. As is tradition I added them both to my “watch later” list, and promptly forgot about them; until last night, that is. While looking for something to watch I closed my eyes, scrolled a whole bunch of times, and landed on ‘The East’. The East is a movie about a terrorist group, The East, who are taking revenge on CEO’s of various companies for their crimes against the world. Their m.o. is very “eye for an eye”, so they usually just do to these CEO’s whatever the company has done wrong to the world. Despite this sounding like a good practice, it is illegal which is where our protagonist comes in. Brit Marling plays an agent of a private firm who goes under cover to infiltrate, then stop The East. That’s pretty much the entire movie.
I’m just going to cut right to the chase and say that the biggest problem I had with The East was that it was boring as shit. Now I’ve seen movies before where activists take their shit too far (namely Night Moves) but that didn’t really bother me during The East. I do admit that the practices of this terrorist group were extreme, but they were effective at conveying a message. It also didn’t hurt that the “heist” portions of this movie were easily the best parts. Unfortunately we had all of the stuff in between to sit through in the mean time. The East parades itself as character drama, but the characters in the movie are as dull as a pillow. Not only do I not know anything about the main character (whose name I’m even struggling to remember), but I don’t want to know anything about her. She has nothing going on in her life that interests me. The entire movie’s ‘crux’ is that this main character is starting to develop feelings for the members of The East, but not only is that cliché as all hell, but it’s written so poorly that the arch isn’t even present. I suppose that we are supposed to believe that hanging out with anyone for an extended period of time will lead to you becoming attached to them, but The East does such a bad job at conveying how much time has passed it’s like she instantly falls in love with them. I don’t know how anyone could fall in love with them after witnessing their strange hippy bathing sessions or games of “consensual spin the bottle”. Everything this group did was fucking bizarre, and yet we are supposed to believe that the character fell in love with them anyway? So anyway, after watching the A-Team (the ‘A’ in this case stands for autistic) do their thing for a while we are treated to the film’s ending which was equally, if not more disappointing than the rest of the film. Not only is the very end of the film so confusing, but the entire ending section of the film makes no sense. All of a sudden we are given information and are supposed to just buy it? What the fuck kind of filmmaking is that? You have to make the audience believe what you are saying, not just hope that they’ll blindly follow you. The entire point of the The East was to show a group that was dealing with global issues, but then it gets super personal at the end. This undermined the entire rest of the movie for me, and left me with a feeling of confusion. Oh, and I forgot to mention that getting into this movie is a chore in itself. At the beginning The East tries really hard to shake you at every turn, as if they know you’ll hate it by the end. The story that is presenting is done so in a way that is hard to follow, literally all of the dialogue is mumbled by the actors, and once again nothing grabs you until about halfway through the film. I wasn’t expecting anything from this movie, but even still I was disappointed.
Overall The East is a movie that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The beginning is a convoluted mess, the middle features a whole lot of bullshit nobody cares about mixed with a few cool sequences, and then the ending comes back in to remind you that you’ve just wasted two hours of your life. If I had to describe The East I would say that it is very one-note; and unfortunately that note is “boring”.
I give The East a C