Persuasive sci-fi tech talk, soulful romance and an earnest stab at metaphysics combine in American 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 New York 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 and bumping up the techno music. If he sticks with the ever-compelling Marling and lets in a little humour (stay for the credits and the movie's wildest idea), this won't just be his early-M Night Shyamalan phase.