A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive MessagesThe 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 ModelsSarah 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 & ScarinessThe 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.
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Sex, Romance & NudityCharacters 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.
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LanguageLanguage is very infrequent.
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Drinking, Drugs & SmokingThe main character is given a kind of "natural" sleeping drug. She panics and tries to vomit it up before she passes out.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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