This was a strange one.
Not because of the cast of “The East,” keep in mind, but simply because of my own scheduling snafu over the weekend. I flew to El Paso, TX, so I could attend a press event for “After Earth,” and I was set to fly back to LA on a Friday night. Unfortunately, my flight, the last flight out of El Paso got cancelled, and so when the press day for “The East” took place on Saturday, I was still in Texas.
The only compromise we could find, thanks the way we had the rest of Team HitFix scheduled, was to have one of Fox Searchlight’s publicists read my questions for the cast, so technically, this may be my interview, but I wasn’t there.
It’s a shame, too. I’d like to meet Brit Marling and talk to her about the work she’s been doing for the last couple of years. I’m intrigued by the subjects she’s drawn to as a writer and by the choices she makes as a performer, and “The East” certainly fits, thematically speaking, with “Sound Of My Voice.”
Zal Batmanglij, the film’s co-writer and director, seems to me like the perfect match for Marling, and I’m excited to see how their collaboration develops over time. I think this sort of ongoing work between an actor and a filmmaker yields some very interesting results, and I could see these two eventually leaving behind a rich and challenging body of work.
Alexander Skarsgard confuses me. There are times where I think he’s a very interesting actor, and there are times where I’m not sure I buy a word out of his mouth. He seems to me to be a guy who you have to cast very carefully because he’s got a specific range, and “The East” makes very particular use of his charisma.
And then there’s Ellen Page, who seems more and more to me over time like a sort of raw wound onscreen. She is exceptional at playing people who can just barely contain the huge emotions storming inside of them, and when she does finally get to that point that she can’t hold it in, it’s almost impossible to look directly at her. I think she gets better and better as she gets older, and if “The East” has an MVP, it’s her.
Thanks to Fox Searchlight for making this uncomfortable situation work, and thanks to the cast for putting up with an unconventional approach to the typical interview.
“The East” starts rolling out in limited release this Friday.