A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Origins is a science-fiction romance that raises some fairly heady spiritual, supernatural, and metaphysical ideas, though it does so in a simple, heartfelt way. A character dies in a fairly gruesome way, and some blood is shown, though much of the gore is kept off screen. Formaldehyde is accidentally splashed in a character's eyes, and characters get angry and throw fits. Couples kiss and have sex, and there's a brief scene of female toplessness. Language isn't frequent but does include more than one use of "f--k" and "s--t." A main character smokes cigarettes, and characters drink on several occasions. One supporting character is called on his excessive vodka drinking. Some brand names (Mentos candy, Lancome perfume, etc.) are mentioned and become thematic devices.
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What's the story?
Molecular biologist Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt), whose hobby is photographing people's eyes, and his new lab partner, Karen (Brit Marling), are studying the evolution of the eye. They find an origin species with no eyesight at all, a worm, and start from scratch. Meanwhile, Ian meets his dream girl, Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). But after he loses her to an accident, his computer database of eyes shows a shocking discovery: Certain eye patterns appear to be re-used, passed on from person to person after death. Ian travels to India to track down the new owner of Sofi's eyes, to see if any part of her soul remained behind. The answer to that question could change everything.
Is it any good?
I ORIGINS is a bit too long and repetitive and a little too generous with its eye-related imagery. Director Mike Cahill made his feature debut with Another Earth (2011), which was written by the brilliant, talented Marling. And while she appears here in a supporting actor capacity, it appears that Cahill may do better under more robust guidance from her. Cahill seems to be playing coy with all these eye references, but they aren't subtle enough to really surprise or challenge.
The movie is more romantic than scientific, and it seems eager to accept a supernatural solution when it should place that burden in the audience's hands. Yet, these days, any sci-fi movie with the barest hint of a science-related idea is a welcome rarity. And above all, I ORIGINS is certainly thoughtful and deeply heartfelt, and it could be hard for dreamers and romantics not to get swept up in the love story. For many viewers, it will be a satisfying experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the use of sex in I Origins. How much is there? How does it figure into the story? Does it seem necessary or gratuitous?
Does the movie seem to believe in science or in the idea of a spiritual/supernatural world? What's the difference? Is it possible for both to exist at the same time?
The symbol of the eye comes up quite frequently in this movie. How many times, and in what ways are eyes referenced? How many ways do you use your eyes -- or the eyes of others -- in real life?
What does "the eyes are the window to the soul" mean?
- In theaters: July 18, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: December 9, 2014
- Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey
- Director: Mike Cahill (II)
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some sexuality/nudity, and language
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
For kids who love romance
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