Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama, Thriller
  • 2013
  • 116 mins

The East

The East


Follow-up to Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling's The Sound Of My Voice converts the politics of anti-corporate extremism into engaging genre thrills.


From Deep Cover (1992) to Donnie Brasco (1997), from Infernal Affairs (2002) to TV's The Americans (2013), our screens are full of stories involving undercover agents pushed into crises of identity by a combination of conflicting allegiances and Stockholm syndrome. In The East, the agent is Sarah (Brit Marling), assigned by a shadowy private security firm to infiltrate the eponymous anarchists' collective, and to report back on its publicity-drawing 'jams' against corporate corruption. Attracted to the group's charismatic leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgård), Sarah soon finds herself seduced by The East's values, if dismayed by their M.O..

Drawing from their own experiences hanging out with anarchists in the late Noughties, writer/director Zal Batmanglij and his co-writer/lead Marling follow up their previous collaboration The Sound Of My Voice (2011) with this timely examination of the politics of resistance, all palatably couched within a taut genre frame. Leaving no doubt about the criminal activities of the companies that the group targets, the film can instead focus on the motives and methodologies of the 'terrorists' themselves, who are shown engaging in an evolving dialectic about the morality of their own increasingly violent actions, even as they mirror both the crimes - and the PR - of the very corporations that they attack.

Further muddying the ideological waters, it will emerge that jams purporting to be purely political have deeply personal causes - although part of the film's admirably complicated, contradictory message, as suggested by a pair of scenes in which Sarah feels around in another's quivering entrails, is that we should all, as individuals or members of corporate society, be willing to get closer to, and perhaps bloodier with, our body politic. A pity, though, that the film's ending is so rushed and disappointingly pat.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Patricia Clarkson, Toby Kebbell, Brit Marling, Ellen Page
  • Writer: Brit Marling
  • Producer: Michael Costigan, Jocelyn Hayes, Brit Marling, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott
  • Composer: Harry Gregson Williams

In a nutshell

A complicated film (with an oversimplistic ending) for the age of the Occupy Movement, The East probes the ethics of those who would oppose corporate malfeasance through covert action.

by Anton Bitel

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Salt Of The Earth

    Brazilian documentary about the life of visionary photographer Sebastião Salgado, directed by Wim Wenders and Sebastião's son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

  • Film4


    AnnaLynne McCord stars as a teenager with an unhealthy fascination with gore and surgery.

    On Film4: 29 Oct 11:05PM

  • Film4

    Black Cinema Season on Film4

    To tie-in with the launch of the BFIs Black Star season, Film4 presents a celebration of black filmmaking talent both in front of and behind the camera.

  • Film4

    FilmFear on Film4

    This Halloween, Film4 becomes FilmFear. Join us for seven nights of petrifying premieres and classics from the crypt.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • RT @Film4: We're previewing 5 ace new horror films at @HOME_mcr later this month, as part of #FilmFear! https://t.c…

  • RT @koreanfilmfest: Closing Gala: Hong Sang-soo's YOURSELF AND YOURS, tickets now available! #lkff #hongsangsoo #s…

  • RT @BechdelTestFest: WED 26 @BirdsEyeViewFF host THE FITS + discussion as part of @BFI's Woman With A Movie Camera & #BFIBlackStar BOOK! h…

  • RT @_Ash_Clark: #BFIBlackStar highlights this weekend include Malcolm X on 35mm, Earl Cameron in person, Ray, and Cabin in the Sky! https:/…

  • RT @misc__films: “An aesthetically austere catalog of contemporary ruin.” - @THR Come see Homo Sapiens at @ThePCCLondon, 26th Oct: https:/…