JULY 26TH, 2014




A MOVIE GUY’S RATING: 2 ½ STARS (out of 4)

There is that old saying that the human eyes are the windows to our souls. In Director Mike Cahill’s most recent film, I Origins, he asks a lot of big questions about reincarnation and afterlife, through the facts that no human eye is unique. Although this is a somewhat smart film about one man’s search for the truth about life and death, with all of the big topics at hand it is safe to say that this film falls somewhere in the middle of a good movie and downright confusing.

It stars Michael Pitt as Ian, a biologist who spends his days working in his biology lab with his partner Karen (the always lovely Britt Marling). Ian does not believe in God or after-life, but he does believe in science. He uses his time outside the lab taking pictures of people’s eyes with his camera. One night at a drunken Halloween party he meets a woman who has a mask on. He snaps a photo of what he considers to be a very unique eyeball and the two proceed to kiss in the apartment bathroom. Before the two can even engage the girl takes off and gets into a cab. He may not see this woman again, but he certainly has the shot of that beautiful eye.

Director Mike Cahill became somewhat of an art house film favorite with his first hit Another Earth. It was a sci-fi independent film, which also starred Britt Marling, which caught many by surprise at Sundance in 2011 taking home two awards including a Special Jury prize. It was a film, much like Origins asking bigger questions about our planet, whether we were alone in the world, and how we are all connected. But this time it was all a little bit simpler. Here is a film with much more complexities, some of the same questions, and leaving us with not enough answers.

As Ian gets off the bus one day he looks up to see a set of eyes on a billboard looking at him. The time is 11:11, he is riding the #11 bus, and his lottery ticket has all 11’s. Something strange is at hand, especially when he runs into that lovely girl with the eyes again on the train a few days later. The two go for coffee, and he has fallen in love with the beautiful Sofi (played by an upcoming star Astrid Berges-Frisbey). And then the rest of the film is hard to explain without saying “Spoiler Alert!” So read on, but be weary.

Ian and Sofi get married and life has become a consequential moment of bliss. Soon their scientific studies begin to progress. Karen and Ian are now able to clone an eyeball onto a worm species. This is a big breakthrough. After a freak accident leaves Ian’s eye infected after this discovery, it prohibits him from being able to save Sofi from a tragic accident in an elevator. I dare not describe it to ruin it for you, but now Sofi is gone, or is she really? Is it just possible that her spirit could still exist?

At this moment, the film turns into Ian’s journey of a scientific/theological investigation on the possibility if two of the same person could exist? Is there such a thing as re-birth? Is Sofi out there alive? Or is this just proof that we as a species are all in some way universally connected?

Collectively the cast works quite well together. Pitt is going to always be remembered as the creepy looking kid in Michael Haneke’s American remake of Funny Games, but here he does show potential star power. Marling on the other hand is already a star. She has a calming, motherly voice that reminds me of classic starlets from the 50’s. Her performances from films such as Sound of my Voice and Arbitrage make her a leading candidate for many big roles when she is ready to take them.

Overall, I Origins is not quite the best movie that Cahill could have made, but his script work and directing style are there. He has a good ability to make his audience think about life outside the box and maybe if there was some fine tuning on this film it would have been better. Was I disappointed? Yes, big time. Have I watched the worst movies this year? Just go read my review of Sex Tape.

2 ½ Stars

Written By: Leo Brady

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