The East is a superior movie partly because it is somewhat original, but mostly because it takes its subject and its characters seriously and skirts what would seem to be almost inevitable clichés.
There is nothing particularly new about Brit Marling, who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Zal Batmanglij, taking a job as an infiltrator of a subversive group that is sabotaging the efforts of a big corporation; but the treatment of the group is unusually and very effectively objective and serious.
You might, as The East goes along, begin to suspect that this is going to be another hymn to juvenile idealism, but the apparent tree-huggers’ custom of eating road kill, and none too fresh road kill, so that, as Ellen Page puts it, it will not lose dignity by going to waste, will somewhat alleviate your enthusiasm for them, and I do not interpret the spin-the-bottle game the way the Eagle reviewer did.
As one of the characters put it, who else would love these unsavory characters?
But as The East continued, I began to wonder not who was guilty, but is anybody innocent. All I’ll add on that is, yes, I think some are morally innocent, though nobody is free from error. Check Page’s three-sentence history of the revolutionary group, for instance. And it’s surprising how unprepared these woodsy revolutionaries are for the real risks they are running.
But the characters are honestly portrayed and there is no cheating at the end. The East is not comic-book stuff; it’s worth your time and money.