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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Movie Review - I Origins

I Origins (2014)
Starring Michael Pitt, Steven Yeun, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, and Brit Marling
Directed by Mike Cahill

I admired director-screenwriter Mike Cahill's debut film Another Earth for being "different," taking a tale of grief and suffering and adding a sci-fi twist to it, but in the end, I found the feature lacking a bit in execution with its low budget unfortunately rearing its ugly head.  I Origins follows a very similar road of telling a story about grief and suffering with a sci-fi twist, but fares a little bit better thanks to a bit bigger budget and characters that feel more well-rounded.

Lately, I feel as if I've written about many movies that feel like two different films squished into one and I Origins is no exception.  When the film opens, molecular biologist Ian (Michael Pitt) and his grad student lab partner Karen (Brit Marling) are attempting to essentially create an eye for an animal that has no vision.  Through a series of (fortuitous?  fated?  random?) events one afternoon, Ian, who has always been fascinated with eyes since he was a young child, comes across a billboard of simply the eyes of a French woman named Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) with whom he spent an interesting night at a party.  Ian eventually finds Sofi again and falls madly in love with her and the two decide to get married.  On their elopement day, Karen gives Ian the fantastic news that she has found an earthworm that holds all the DNA necessary to "make" an eye, but doesn't currently have vision as one of its senses.  This discovery is the major stepping stone for all of Ian's work and he finds it necessary to cut his wedding day short to head to the lab.  This decision changes his life forever.

And unfortunately, it's incredibly difficult to talk about the rest of the film -- the better part of the film -- without spoiling things too much.  Needless to say, Ian's life takes a strange turn after that day with his success in the lab leading him down a path of both scientific and self-discovery that I found moderately fascinating.

The one thing that Mike Cahill's two films so far have going for them is this sense of intelligence brooding out of them.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand what's going on in the slightest, but he doesn't necessarily dumb things down to a point where a general audience would find his flicks palatable...and I like that about Cahill.  Here, science is absolutely in the forefront and what's even more intriguing is how Cahill integrates the battle between science and religion into the picture.  This is always a dichotomy that is a tricky one to embrace without upsetting either side and I think the director/screenwriter succeeds quite well.

Michael Pitt carries the film, but definitely comes alive in the second half -- along with everyone else, for that matter.  As we're watching, we know that the first half is leading up to something major, but it just takes a little too long to get there.  Fortunately, once we're there, it's worth the wait as I was quite captivated by the unique nature of the piece.  Much like Another Earth, I Origins will not be for everyone's tastes, but it may be worth a try if you're in the mood for something a bit thought-provoking and not so run-of-the-mill.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-


  1. Not having seen him in more than a handful of things, Michael Pitt is an actor I find myself drawn to. Had only heard the title of this film in passing, but now will seek it out based on that--and also because of the Another Earth connection (film which I liked despite very little interest in subject matter). yay!

  2. I just looked up Michael Pitt's filmography and I was rather surprised that I haven't seen him in a whole lot -- I thought I had seen him in much more. Like you, I like Pitt. (Although I also have this weird feeling that as a person I'd find him obnoxiously pretentious, but perhaps that's unfair.)

    I liked this one better than Another Earth, but I did find it a bit slow to start. It eventually came together and the last half really flew by, but there was almost a point where I stopped thinking it had nowhere to go.