The East

June 2nd, 2013


The East

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An operative for an elite private intelligence firm finds her priorities changing dramatically after she is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 7.5/10 (726 voted)

Director: Zal Batmanglij

A successful operative for an elite private intelligence firm is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations. However, she finds her priorities changing as she befriends the members and begins to develop romantic feelings for its charismatic leader.

Writers: ,


Official Website: Official site

Country: ,

Release Date:

Filming Locations: Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)

Technical Specs


User Review

Didn't hit the mark for me, but solid film.

Rating: 6/10

First and foremost, this is a nice movie overall. Shot well, acted well, generally pleasing as a story but I really felt the heavy hand of ideology above all else. This was easily the biggest turn off of the film. It's an attack on class, on corporate America, on wealth all kind of rolled into one and while I actually agreed with much of the general idea, being told repeatedly how bad "they" just wore me out. Now, that's not to say the film takes this as it's message. The anarchist collective (The East) carries out it's terror pranks as a way to show those who they feel have done wrong a taste of their own medicine in an eye for an eye style vengeance. Where the message really rests is the contrast between their heavy handed and petty methods of dealing justice which yields almost zero result and only goes to further a growing divide (call it wealth, power, whatever the case) and the protagonists view of showing the world and exposing the injustices, allowing people to make their own decisions, take their own action, and generally play within the system how the system was meant to be. In a sense, allowing society's laws and such to be acted upon instead of vigilante justice. It's the old feeling that the system doesn't work so abandon it vs. the system doesn't work, so fix it. Each has it's merits and will play to a certain person but neither is entirely in the right either.

All this is nice and interesting, however, over the course of the film, it's made abundantly clear that the collective, while well intentioned, is completely hypocritical. We want you to stop hurting people so we're going to hurt you... whoever we deem "you" to be, even if you have nothing to do with the actual act. One could say the pharmaceutical company who hurts hundreds but saves hundreds of thousands is "well intentioned", right? Much like a collective who hurts dozens to help hundreds? Well, as collectives tend to be... self righteousness comes in buckets. Simply put, I was keenly aware of this hypocrisy very quickly and thus, couldn't quite wrap my head around the protagonists shift from undercover agent to sympathetic co conspirator. That single dynamic really caused the film to be a bumpy ride for me. In a sense, why would I ever root or sympathize with the people who are simply looking for petty and empty vengeance to send a message? So, the alternative ends up being a path that nearly everyone takes when faced with an injustice. They show it to the world and the world reacts. For that being the final sentiment, I was left feeling a bit let down.

Another point to make about The East is that the protagonist is generally passive. Things happen surprisingly easily for her. She is almost immediately accepted into this secretive anarchist collective, she is then trusted by those who were only moments before highly suspicious of her to carry out a fairly intricate plot, she (without much effort) is able to fall in love with the leader of the collective. This isn't to say she doesn't progress as a character, she does, but it's at a snails pace for much of the film.

Some other minor things that just bugged me is that supporting characters made very abrupt exits never to be seen or heard from again. I wasn't overly happy with Page's character, Izzy. Not that her performance wasn't very good, it was, simply that her moment in the sun is so unsatisfying. It could have been done purposely but I don't know.

All this negative aside, The East is a decent film and certainly provokes some interesting questions. As I said, the acting is very good in the film and quite enjoyable. The visuals are mostly simplistic but again, tastefully done. In general, the film is pretty solid. Unfortunately, for me, the philosophical and societal questions the film raises were just a bit too easily answered. Yes, big business who manipulates and poisons while operating above the law is wrong. Yes, going after them and trying to give them cancer as retribution is wrong. Yes, instead of essentially becoming the devil you despise, tell the world, expose truth and let society's laws which are there for a reason be the rule.


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