We opened Zal Batmanglij's thriller THE EAST last Friday to great reviews--many of them from loyal moviegoers just like you--but many of them critics from esteemed publications like those below. In case you needed any convincing, here are some of our favorite reviews of THE EAST!
It's in making the Bourne/Bond-style hero a woman, and a believable one for a change, that sets "The East" apart. Marling has made a habit of resisting Hollywood stereotypes for pretty blonds. Even when she's not writing, she's opted for strong female characters — ones working their way through moral quandaries rather than shopping malls or men — although that's often meant smaller roles.
Gawker (notoriously one of the snarkiest web sites ever created) caled THE EAST "this summer's sleeper hit", which is pretty crazy. The went on to say:
Most strikingly, THE EAST's portrait of the eponymous cult is fantastic. The East is a fictional, anarchist, ecological terrorist group, based in the politics of freeganism. They live off the unnecessary waste of a fatted culture. There is dumpster diving, dilapidated mansion squatting, river bathing, banjo playing, and unusual eating rituals involving wooden spoons and straightjackets. Many of these details are based in reality; Marling and Batmanglij lived with alternative communities for some time before writing the script, and have spoken about their fascination with their principles and minutia of their day-to-day habits. The cult in The East is gorgeously offset with incredible production details. Shot in Louisiana, the production designer behind BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, Alex DiGerlando, masterfully created another portrait of ramshackle, organic living outside of society. It's a world that prizes the autonomy of living outside of society, as well as the vulnerability needed to give oneself completely over to a community. In addition to a detail-rich setting, The East manages to subtly paint a convincing portrait of this uncomfortable liberation.
Meanwhile over at Vulture.com, David Edlestein also gave THE EAST a great review, praising the cast:
They’re crazy, lovely, passionate people. The magnetic Alexander Skarsgard is the leader, Benji, a soft-spoken dreamboat, ever-direct but with a haunted quality, with something in reserve. Ellen Page gives a Lili Taylor–worthy performance (high praise) as a suspicious, abrasive young woman — the first to challenge Sarah’s credibility — who’s finally heartbreaking in her commitment. Shiloh Fernandez (gay) and Hillary Baack (deaf) add distinct and original notes. Toby Kebbell is superb as a doctor whose experience with a poorly tested drug in Africa has led him to have seizures.
Joshua Rothkopf from Time Out New York gave the film 4 out of 5 stars:
It’s during this middle section, taut with long stares and the gamesmanship that comes with being one step ahead (or are we?), that the film really takes off. Playing to her shifty strengths, Marling is in her element, but there’s also vivid work from Alexander Skarsgård as the sect’s intense, handsome leader and Ellen Page, born to flip out over upcoming “jams.” Scenes of bizarre indoctrination are becoming a Batmanglij forte (Sound of My Voice had cinema’s most elaborate secret handshake), and Sarah almost blows her gig during a dinner at which she’s not hip to the group’s eating customs.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was also a big fan of THE EAST:
It’s the emotional dynamics of the group that pull us in. The acting is top-tier all the way. Page brims with ferocity and feeling, notably in a piercing scene with her estranged father. And Marling and Skarsgard nail every nuance in locating the secret hearts of characters who pride themselves on revealing nothing. The film’s climax may be clunky and unsatisfying, but it takes us to where the film’s been heading all along, a moral abyss. You leave The East with a hunger to know more and a good idea of where to look. For Marling and Batmanglij that counts as mission accomplished. For audiences, it’s that rare thing these days – a movie that matters.
You can check out more on THE EAST over at the film's official site, including when the movie will open near you!