The East

 
Possibly controversial messages in eco-terrorism thriller.
  • Review Date: May 30, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

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
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
Not applicable
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.
 

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.

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?

QUALITY
 
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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:May 31, 2013
DVD release date:September 17, 2013
Cast:Alexander Skarsgard, Brit Marling, Ellen Page
Director:Zal Batmanglij
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Genre:Thriller
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content and partial nudity

This review of The East was written by

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Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek October 19, 2013
age 15+
 

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 attacks are too disturbing for younger teens. Violence includes a character cutting her arm open with a torn aluminum can, people being drowned in poisoned pools of oil, burning bodies, explosions, a man being forced to jump into a heavily polluted lake, which kills him, terrorists slipping dangerous drugs into champagne at a large party, and disturbing news footage is shown of animals and torn open bodies, covered in oil. Sex includes some partial nudity (flashes of female breasts & male buttocks and genitals), same-sex kissing, a sex scene, and themes of infidelity, along with some pretty graphic sexual references (about sex addiction and lesbian relationships). Language includes one whispered use of "f--k" and one use of "b-tch". In the end, this compelling terrorist movie is fantastic, but not for younger kids. SUGGESTED MPAA RATING: Rated PG-13 For Some Grisly Images, Violent Thematic Material, Disturbing References, Sexual Content, Partial Nudity And Brief Language
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byStevie111 October 29, 2013
age 13+
 

The East

Intense movie with some strong sexual themes and blood, is quite good, but only for teens and up.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Educator and Parent Written byRepublicanMom February 21, 2014
age 17+
 

Communism!

Nasty propaganda, full of liberals and junkies!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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