The East Reviews

Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Grantland
January 6, 2014
Marling and Batmanglij don't fear or resent entertainment: They make effective thrillers... If they reach a major studio and bigger budget, they could be the right kind of dangerous.
Top Critic
Guy Lodge
Time Out
June 25, 2013
Its morally ambiguous investigation of extreme left-wing politics is ... light years away from usual multiplex concerns.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
June 20, 2013
The latest collaboration between director Zal Batmanglij and screenwriter Brit Marling suffers from the same problem as their previous picture, Sound of My Voice: It's taut, compelling, unpredictable and completely wipes out in the final few minutes.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
June 14, 2013
"The East" leaves questions unanswered, but at least it asks those questions.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
June 13, 2013
A fast-rising newcomer to film, the willowy Marling is maturing fast, and encouragingly unwilling to dumb herself down for stock girlfriend roles. This is her strongest work yet and I hope a harbinger of much more to come.
Top Critic
Soren Anderson
Seattle Times
June 13, 2013
Marling and Batmanglij bring an evenhanded perspective to their portrayals of the characters and issues involved.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
June 13, 2013
A watchably confused eco-thriller that's never sure who its heroes are.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
June 13, 2013
It is a smart, well-acted drama, and another chance for Marling to exercise her unique talents, creating intriguing characters on the page and the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
Chicago Sun-Times
June 11, 2013
"The East" prizes an initial air of mystery over consistent drama, and as a result ends up squandering its intriguing premise.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
Hearst Newspapers
June 10, 2013
As is often the case with people who become major stars, [Marling] seems as if she has always been there. She's new and yet familiar, as if we've known her all along.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
June 7, 2013
As a scriptwriter, actress Brit Marling has so far demonstrated an unerring instinct for creating meaty, if somewhat hard-to-swallow, roles for herself.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bill Zwecker
Chicago Sun-Times
June 7, 2013
Another project that proves this actress and filmmaker has the chops that will guarantee her longevity in the movie industry.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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James Adams
Globe and Mail
June 7, 2013
The East is not a very good movie, hobbled by an excess of plot, a lack of believability and big gaps of logic.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Ben Sachs
Chicago Reader
June 6, 2013
When the filmmakers try to flesh out the terrorists, they fall back on the conservative cliche that they're spoiled rich kids, mad at their parents.
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
June 6, 2013
A taut espionage drama that pits global corporations against a radical band of ecoterrorists.
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
June 6, 2013
Marling has a focus and poise that keeps us invested in her character's journey - even when the film begins to falter, as The East eventually does through inconsistency and expedience.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
June 6, 2013
It's irritatingly smug.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
June 6, 2013
The reason the movie works, despite some "movie-stupid" developments in the second half, has everything to do with the low-key and unaffected quality Marling brings to the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
James Rocchi
MSN Movies
June 4, 2013
Marling and Batmangli are smart enough to know that character and ideas matter, and how the presence of those things can improve action and suspense.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
June 3, 2013
In most respects a conventional genre picture. But it's passionate (and weird) enough to evolve into something mysterious and moving.
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
May 31, 2013
As uncertain as she is as a screenwriter, Marling is even less accomplished as an actress - problems she compounds by invariably giving herself the lead role in her own scripts.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Kyle Smith
New York Post
May 31, 2013
A cockamamie valentine to eco-terrorism.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
May 30, 2013
It gives us an interesting character with genuine moral ambiguity and demands that she make tough choices and that we think about what tactics we support -- and then it completely fritters it all away with a pat ending.
Full Review | Original Score: 6/10
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
May 30, 2013
The whole movie has the smugness of a cult. At one and the same time it's devoid of reality and insufferably full of itself.
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
May 30, 2013
Almost but not quite the truly terrific movie that Batmanglij and Marling are going to make one day ...
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Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2013
By spicing up a complex morality tale marked by sophisticated themes with down and dirty back stabbing and betrayals, the movie turns corporate malfeasance into a spy game that is entertaining without being dumbed down.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
May 30, 2013
This well-paced story is tense and thoughtful, and is anchored by a trio of terrific performances.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
May 30, 2013
The East makes for a passable thriller, as 1 percenters get theirs in satisfying, if incrementally implausible ways.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
May 30, 2013
Eco-terrorism drives the plot of The East, but this propulsive thriller is laced with a humanism that trumps any political agenda.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
May 30, 2013
"The East" is a neat little thriller about ends and means and ethical quandaries.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
May 30, 2013
This great, industrial-strength thriller is busy thinking even when it's quiet.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
A.A. Dowd
AV Club
May 30, 2013
The East deftly mixes spy-movie pleasures with headier concerns.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
May 29, 2013
The East suffers from the same weakness as the cult members Sarah works so hard to understand: a questionable definition of morality that overpowers an ultimate sense of reason.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
May 28, 2013
Coming in our moment of recent domestic terror, the movie has a boldness in diving into the whys of political violence.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Amy Nicholson
Village Voice
May 28, 2013
It's disappointing that, for all its empathy and equilibrium, The East has nowhere to go after the script backs itself into a corner.
Top Critic
Richard Brody
New Yorker
May 27, 2013
This absurdly superficial and tendentious drama, directed with no distinction, wastes a superb cast in the interest of self-righteous attitudinizing.
Top Critic
Leah Greenblatt
Entertainment Weekly
May 22, 2013
A compelling portrait of what gets lost (and found) when a cause becomes an obsession.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Jordan Hoffman
Film.com
January 30, 2013
If "The East" were from anyone other than writer/director Zal Batmanglij and writer/star Brit Marling, I'd be much more excited about it.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Justin Chang
Variety
January 22, 2013
The second picture in a fascinating collaboration with producer-writer-star Brit Marling, this clever, involving spy drama builds to a terrific level of intrigue before losing some steam in its second half.
Top Critic
John DeFore
Hollywood Reporter
January 22, 2013
Undercover anxieties drive satisfying eco-minded suspense film.