Brit Marling is one of those new cinematic talents that I’ve actively tried to campaign. Her story is so inspiring and her talent in front and behind the camera is very obvious and varied, which is nice. She basically got tired of being offered stock roles because of her appearance and decided to take her career into her own hands, writing and producing her own films. Those films, ‘Another Earth’, ‘Sound of My Voice’ and ‘The East’ are all very good, very different and pretty inspired works. She has this knack for developing interesting stories and characters and bringing them to life on screen.
‘I Origins’ reteams her with her ‘Another Earth’ director, Mike Cahill. Because of this, I was excited, for ‘Another Earth’ is still my favorite Marling film, and the idea of the two of them reteaming for another dose of science fiction felt fresh and exciting.
I didn’t realize that Brit Marling didn’t write or produce this film, so maybe that’s why it’s so awful.
‘I Origins’ has a very interesting premise, but sadly it is a film that is so completely uninteresting that it fails to live up to any potential that storyline could have had. The premise is rather intriguing. A biologist and atheist, Ian, attempts to play god in order to disprove that god exists. In the process, he meets and falls in love with a woman who, ironically, has very strong belief in a spirit world. Despite their obvious differences (there are many), the two form a bond that is shattered, unexpectedly, leaving Ian desperate and disillusioned, until the very thing that made him so adamant in his disbelief in a creator begins to sway his seemingly solid beliefs.
There is a lot of stuff about eyes here, but I’ll let the film explain that for you.
Here’s my problem, or problems. First, ‘I Origins’ feels like two films that are trying to be cohesive and yet can’t really find a meshing point. The first half is tiresome in its pointlessness, establishing relationships and ideas and yet never really grounding any of them. We know what Ian thinks and what Sofi thinks and who Karen is and yet their intertwining never really feels honest or even believable, and despite the ideas implemented by the fragmented way in which Cahill shoots the first half, those ideas almost become forgotten. I think a major reason for this is that Michael Pitt, as an actor, is just so uninteresting. He just feels so blank and he can’t convey anything deeper than a surface expression, and even there he struggles, and so leaving the whole film’s crux on his shoulders was a very poor decision. The lack of real character development with the two female stars, who are far more charismatic and engaging as actresses, also dampens the progression of story. The second half is such a sharp contradiction to the first that it feels like Cahill had no idea what he was really trying to say and so he said two vastly different things and just went with it.
It doesn’t work.
Anyone else disturbed by the very nonchalant way that both Ian and Karen talk about experimenting on their baby?
Anyways, I really wanted this to be an interesting and richly constructed film, but at the end of the day, ‘I Origins’ says absolutely nothing, like at all. It had all these chances to say something smart or at least interesting about the debate of life, creation, atheism, religion or even grief and loss, but it throws all of those ideas out there with no grounding and no retort. It honestly says NOTHING about ANYTHING.
An F. I contemplated a D, but the more I thought about this the more upset I got over the fact that this could have given us so much but settled on giving us absolutely nothing.