The East

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The East Movie Poster Image
Possibly controversial messages in eco-terrorism thriller.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The movie concerns itself with trying to stop evil corporate behavior, though the "eco-terrorist" group (or anarchist collective) may not choose the healthiest or most responsible ways of protesting. Teens may thrill to the fact that their activities seem to get results, even if those results are dire or deadly. Regardless, the movie doesn't necessarily condone these activities, and it may spark conversation as to what other means might be available.
 
Positive Role Models & Representations
Sarah is an interesting female role model, resourceful and brave and concerned with right and wrong. She occasionally slips as she becomes more seduced by the collective mentality (and by one man in particular), but overall she may be an inspiration for young women.
Violence
The movie centers on a group of eco-terrorists who carry out criminal, quasi-murderous acts against evil corporate entities. They slip drugs into champagne at a party, and people get deathly ill. They force a CEO at gunpoint to jump into a heavily polluted lake. Characters are shot. A makeshift operation is performed, and characters die. The main character slices her arm with a torn aluminum can to make it look as if she's been wounded in a fight. Some blood is shown. Disturbing news footage of environmental disasters, including animals covered in sticky oil, is shown.
Sex
Characters bathe together in a lake, and men and women are naked, though very little nudity is shown. A male character's naked bottom is shown as he gets out of a tub. Two main characters kiss and have sex, though no nudity is shown. The main character cheats on her boyfriend while on an undercover assignment.
Language
Language is very infrequent.
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character is given a kind of "natural" sleeping drug. She panics and tries to vomit it up before she passes out.
 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The East is a thriller about a spy who infiltrates a violent eco-terrorist group and becomes involved with its members. The movie doesn't specifically condone this anarchist behavior, though it's clearly angry about irresponsible corporate behavior and suggests that other solutions may be possible. There's not much fighting or shooting, but some blood is shown, and there are some strong images and dangerous acts. Some sexual situations arise, and nudity is suggested but rarely shown. Language is minimal, and a "natural" sleeping drug is used on the heroine. The movie's reactionary message will likely appeal to many teens; hopefully it will inspire good deeds instead of destructive ones.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRepublicanMom February 21, 2014

Communism!

Nasty propaganda, full of liberals and junkies!
Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek October 19, 2013

Compelling Eco-Terrorist Drama is Okay For Teens.

Parents, this compelling terrorist drama from the co-writer of "The Pianist" is a thoughtful and tense film, but the mature themes and terrorist attac... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byStevie111 October 29, 2013

The East

Intense movie with some strong sexual themes and blood, is quite good, but only for teens and up.

What's the story?

Sarah (Brit Marling) works as a secret agent for a private intelligence firm; her job is so hush-hush that she can't even tell her boyfriend. Her latest assignment is to infiltrate an eco-terrorist group called "The East," whose crimes are designed to mirror the crimes that corporate entities have committed upon the world (poisoning the water, releasing deadly drugs on the market, etc.). She succeeds in joining the group and convincing them of her sincerity, but she finds herself falling for the group's charismatic leader, Benji (Alexander Skarsgard), and he for her. Things get even more complicated when one of the group's members, Izzy (Ellen Page), designs an attack (called "jams") that's a little too personal.

Is it any good?

If it weren't for the ludicrous ending, this film might be nearly outstanding. The incredible Marling, who wrote (or co-wrote) the screenplays for Another Earth and Sound of My Voice -- as well as producing and starring -- moves into a slightly bigger budget bracket with THE EAST, though the mood is still the same: thoughtful and emotionally risky. Like Sound of My Voice, the concept here is also the infiltration of a cult.
 
However, the plotting of The East has also advanced a bit more toward Hollywood. Most of the movie works like gangbusters, with Sarah's journey taking precedence over the anti-corporate messages. Her involvement with the cult and with Benji grows ever stranger and more precarious as the "jams" get more dangerous. Unfortunately, the filmmakers felt the need to tack on a fairly overcooked ending that feels both rushed and ridiculous. It knocks the entire movie down a few pegs, but there's still a lot here to admire -- and to think about.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The East's somewhat violent eco-terrorist, anti-corporate message. How do the movie's main characters justify their actions? Are they right, or is there a better way to get involved?
  • How does the anarchist collective demonstrate teamwork? How about trust? How does Sarah prove that she can be a member of their team?
  •  
  • Who are the "good guys" and "bad guys" in this story? After a while, does the anarchist collective seem bad? Does Sarah's boss seem good?

Movie details

For kids who love doing good in the world

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