Reviews - I Origins
Reviewed By Chris Coombes
Directed by Mike Cahill and starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling, it is the story of a molecular biologist and his laboratory partner who seek to prove once and for all the origins of humans by studying eyes and the chromosome for sight in various species.
Our biologist, Dr Ian Gray absolutely believes in science and is hugely challenged when he is forced to consider spirituality and feelings that don't make sense to him, coming as he does from a world full of laboratory mice and data. What rocks his scientific world, of course, is falling in love and dealing with the aftermath.
Writing this I am struggling to say much about the story because I'm not sure I fully understood it, and I certainly found it ultimately frustrating. It was full of grand ideas – the nature of God, the handling of grief, reincarnation, religious belief versus science – not to mention the threat of human data collection and storage on an alarmingly global scale.
I think I have come away feeling that the ideas were too big for the film. It became confused and lost its way. Was it a love story? Was it a warning to us not to turn our backs on religion? Was it a slightly spooky mystery story? What? and why did it fade away to sentimental nothingness in the end – as if the director had run out of ideas or just lost interest?
I couldn't help but be infuriated that our Dr Gray's wife who seemed to be far more intelligent and on the ball than he was, as is so often the case, pushed to the background and made to support the emotional outpourings of her scientist husband rather than being fully developed as a character in her own right.
However in spite of all my misgivings the film, as always, gave much food for thought and led to lively discussion on the way home. It was entertaining – but is that enough? The performances were competent, if a bit too straightforward and familiar, and there is some lovely photography throughout. I would have felt much more comfortable if it had been clearer where the director was coming from. I'm pretty sure we were being lectured to, but I wasn't sure about precisely what or from what perspective and that was unnerving.
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