I Origins

“I can’t remember the last time I had a 4 movie weekend, but this one was glorious. Gonna break the rules a little bit and blog the last one first, but only because the blog-in-order rule is trumped by the blog-advanced-screenings-first one. So I guess I’m not really breaking anything.

I’d only seen the trailer for this once, but an intriguingly unique premise + Michael Pitt = must movie. Then I saw that The Brattle was hosting an advanced screening with a Q&A with Pitt and director Mike Cahill. Sadly, the gorgeous and talented actor missed his train and therefore was unable to make it, but the movie was still absolutely worth seeing, and I did learn a lot of fun things from Cahill. Movie first though.

Here’s where I usually start with the plot. I’m just not sure how deep to go into it. The film was constantly moving forward, so I don’t know how far to go into it without recapping and spoiling the entire thing, but I also don’t want to cut it too short. Pitt plays Ian, a molecular biologist who is fascinated/obsessed with the human eye. At moments when his occular research seems to be making great strides, his personal life tends to get upended. Along the way, he makes a big discovery that could fundamentally change his beliefs about science and God as well as bring some hope and closure to the tragedy he’s faced outside of the lab. Cryptic enough for ya? Just trying to keep ExpDel a spoiler free zone. Though I hope that by side stepping the details I didn’t make this sound too hokey.

Pitt was a very strong anchor for a film that carefully balanced character with story. Most films tend to be heavier on one than the other. Here, we had a fully realized and evolving person going thru an unpredictable journey that kept you guessing. Okay, so maybe I did see some steps coming along the way from having seen the trailer, but I don’t think I would have made those jumps otherwise. The crowd reactions seemed to support that as well. I do tend to favor plot over characters, and this one was unlike any I’d seen. The premise was just so unique, and one that really kept me thinking throughout. I was also trying really hard to think up some thoughtful and insightful question for the writer/director afterwards (because how often do you get that chance), but the whole thing just felt complete and satisfying. I knew that the only questions I had were all a matter of interpertation. Back to Pitt, who was in pretty much every scene, leaving no room for error, he carried the film with such conviction, fully drawing you into his world and his thoughts. His charisma is was kept pulling me deeper and deeper into the story.

As previously stated, lots of fun tidbits and info from Mike Cahill afterwards. Things like, yes those really are actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey’s eyes that are featured throughout. The third act was set in India because the technology being used is actually utilized there right now (and the CNN clips were real). Some of the films most memorable lines were improvised by the actors. (Sidenote: there was a lot of levity mixed into the film, that I really appreciated. I often find comedy most sincere when it’s not trying to make something funny, but rather just allowing for some honest moments). When Cahill was pitching Pitt on the concept, he strung him along for a while that it was a true story. There was also some concern over showing a film that involved a lot of science to a crowd that included a fair amount of the MIT community (myself included). Oh and about that title. This was actually conceived as a backstory for a bigger film “”I””, and wasn’t originally intended to make it to film, until it was. As Cahill said it’s “”a prequel to a sequel that hasn’t been made””. So the title is very literal. It’s the origins of the other film “”I””.

I did eventually find a moment to get in on the conversation. Someone raised a question about what they considered to be flawed logic in the film, and was being rather accusatory (dare I say a little rude too) in asking for an explanation. The crowd kinda came to Cahill’s defense, with some input from our emcee as well. Another girl offered her take on reconciling the logic issue with her interperation about how the film only focused on one of the senses, and then I offered one citing the age discrepancies between some of the characters involved. Cahill then
suggested we all just roundtable discuss over beers and moved on to the next question. So maybe not the insightful and thoughtful question I was hoping to find, but at least I found a moment to jump in. For someone who’s shy and antisocial, that’s a win.

Whenever I do get to see an advanced screening for free, I feel it’s my duty to publicize the film if it’s good. It’s the least I can do in return. This is one film I’m certainly happy to do that for. Especially when the summer is filled with a lot of mindless blockbusters (which I do love, and they certainly have their place in cinema and my heart), sometimes you just need a film that goes a little deeper. This is one of those films.

I Origins – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

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