I Origins

Film

Science fiction

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

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Time Out says

Sun Jan 19

Persuasive sci-fi tech talk, soulful romance and an earnest stab at metaphysics combine in director Mike Cahill's polished second feature (after 2011's similarly themed Another Earth). Perhaps the film's first major achievement, though, is turning Michael Pitt (Last Days) into a believably brilliant medical student with a thing for eyes. Molecular biologist Ian (Pitt) likes to take digital photos of dilating pupils. When he meets foxy Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) at a NYC costume party, her red-flecked irises turn him on and he can't help but ask for a snap. Their affair begins in earnest, while Ian's workaholic lab assistant, Karen (Brit Marling), does the drudge work. It's a mark of Cahill's improving command of pace that his first hour feels comparable to David Cronenberg's flirty, ominous remake of The Fly, with a killer turning point involving a massive research breakthrough and a tragedy on the same day as Ian and Sofi's wedding.

Leaping ahead seven years, it's Karen that has the baby bump—and here's where any fair reviewer needs to duck out. I Origins, like Another Earth, poses a big what-if involving the singular nature of the soul, and if you don't go in with at least a smidgen of cosmic open-mindedness, you're going to get a case of the giggles. "It's dangeous to play God," says Sofi in one of Cahill's more regrettable lines; elsewhere, the writer-director has become an ambitious stylist, staging a couple of bullet-time camera swirls with panache, heading to India for a bizarre, oddly emotional climax (scored to Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack") and bumping up the techno music. If he sticks with the ever-compelling Marling and lets in a little humor (stay for the credits and the movie's wildest idea), this won't just be his early–M. Night Shyamalan phase.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Release details

US release:

2014

Duration:

113 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Mike Cahill

Screenwriter:

Mike Cahill

Cast:

Brit Marling, Michael Pitt, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey

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