We’re Jamming, by Sarah Brinks
I don’t know when the term ‘Eco terrorism’ was created but according to the Wikipedia definition the fictitious group “The East” in the film The East is a perfect example. The East is about a woman (Brit Marling) who works for a private security company who infiltrates ‘The East” in order to protect her high-end corporate clients. Jane, undercover as Sarah Moss (Marling), is an ex-FBI agent who is given ‘The East job” as her first big break with the security company. She successfully infiltrates this highly secretive group and finds herself getting in much deeper then she ever imagined.
Jane has objections to what “The East” is doing but over time begins to see the world differently because of them. The East raises some moral questions about what you would do in Jane’s shoes. How far would go and to what degree would you participate with them? What I like about The East is that it asks these questions in the context of a fictional thriller. It avoids being too heavy-handed about its moral stance in a way that less successful films have failed. You cannot walk away from The East with asking yourself some questions: Would I have helped with the “jams” (the attacks), who in the film do I agree with, is the system broken, am I part of the problem or the solution? I think for the majority of us the answers to all those questions are both yes and no to some degree. The film leaves it up to decide if “The East” is a cult, a modern family, or a collection of angry people hell-bent on destruction. It is no doubt that they are extremists, but they also have to live with the consequences of their actions.
Brit Marling fans will already know that she is a capable actress and writer. Marling heads the star-studded cast of The East. Alexander Skarsgård plays Benji the leader of the East. Ellen Page plays the bitter follower Izzy. Patricia Clarkson plays the power and money hungry head of the private security film Jane works for. I have never been a fan of Page I think she lacks range, but her angry hipster persona works in this film. Skarsgård is well cast in his role. He has charm and vulnerability, which makes it easy to understand why people follow him to the lengths that they do. In a scene where they play a version of ‘spin the bottle’ whenever it lands on Benji everyone wants either a hug or a kiss from him, they all want to be close to him more so than anyone else in the group.
The East is a well made, well acted, and well written film that walks the balance of not condoning the acts of “The East” by showing their side of the argument and personal motivations and also showing the sometimes deadly consequences of their “jams”. The film shows that they are extremists that are misguided but it also shows that living sustainably and more eco-consciously is a choice. The East is a little heavy-handed at times but not to the point that I wouldn’t recommend the film.