and_if_this_is_your_first_time_in_the_east_you_must_east

The problem with eco-terrorists is that they’re just misunderstood by the people trying to infiltrate them. That’s the premise of Zal Batmanglij’s The East, a less interesting but more lavishly cast reskinning of Sound of My Voice, which was about time travel instead of eco-terrorism. Guess which movie is more preposterous. Nope. Guess again.

These eco-terrorists are played by hale good-looking actors pretending to be filthy hippies, or at least rapscallions from some carefree place where people don’t wash their hair so much. Oregon, maybe. It’s really funny when these eco-terrorists bathe and put on suits so they can go on “a jam”. That’s what they call their operations. Jams. “This is my jam,” one of the eco-terrorists says jealously when another eco-terrorist expresses doubt. On their jams, with their hair combed and their nice clothes, they have the carefully calculated scruffy look of a trendy clothes catalog or a TV series about an apocalypse.

Brit Marling, who was fascinatingly cryptic as the guru in Sound of My Voice, just seems lost. She seems equally lost whether she’s kissing Alexander Saarsgaard, kissing Ellen Page, or fishing around someone’s guts with her fingers to look for a bullet. For the conclusion of her character arc, she eats an apple out of the trash in front of her boss, who is played by the similarly lost Patricia Clarkson. Clarkson puts on an evening gown and flies away in a helicopter. Because that’s just what the privileged do. Oh, big pharma, corporate security, and utilities companies! Flying helicopters to parties and throwing away perfectly good apples! You deserve to be eco-terrorized.

The whole movie is trite, from the politics to the performances to the premise. It’s the exact opposite of Sound of My Voice, where Batmanglij’s chief sin was picking the least interesting ending to an interesting story. But by the time The East winds up where it’s going — eating an apple out of the trash — there aren’t even any interesting endings to not be picked.

The East is currently available on DVD and VOD. Watch it on Amazon.com to support Qt3.