Directed by Mike Cahill
I Origins follows a molecular biologist studying the evolution of the human eye. He finds his work permeating his life after a brief encounter with an exotic young woman who slips away from him. As his research continues years later with his lab partner, they make a stunning scientific discovery that has far reaching implications and complicates both his scientific and and spiritual beliefs. Traveling half way around the world, he risks everything he has ever known to validate his theory.
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★★★★ review by Dirk van Eck on Letterboxd
To get yourself an attractive girlfriend take the following steps: (1) track down a girl you once met at a party; (2) encounter her by chance on the subway; (3) obsessively stare at her; (4) share Mentos; (5) stand behind her as she endeavours to step off; (6) put your headphones onto her; (7) let it play a very non-masculine indie song; (8) keep on walking behind her so that your headphones don’t drop from her head. By now she will turn around and bump into you. This is your chance! Quick, kiss her! Love, death, love after death, God, playing God, disproving God, proving God? These are just a few themes touched upon in I Origins, which, as you see, is a pretty ambitious film. It is also a beautiful one. It reminds me of Upstream Color in its science/spirit story, but I prefer the more narratively structured version that is displayed here. What begins as a nice story about relationships with difference is brusquely turned into a quest to unearth some of the very heavy subject matter I’ve stipulated above; all concluded with the perfect ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ by Radiohead. Big, big recommendation.
★★★★½ review by Ruslan Mavrodinov on Letterboxd
Vaguely reminiscent of The Fountain in its romanticized exploration of science, faith and metaphysics, I Origins is a daring, absorbing and though-provoking sci-fi romantic drama whose grand ideas and occasional flashes of greatness pose controversial, hair-raising questions and look for their equally fascinating answers.
★★★½ review by CJ Probst on Letterboxd
So when I went into this I knew absolutely zero about the film other than the poster in combination with the generic derivative title, I Origins, made it scream 2 star science-fiction movie all day long. I was delighted to find out that it starred Michael Pitt whose work I have enjoyed in the past and was quickly introduced to the intoxicatingly beautiful Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Someone’s got their pouty face down pat. This girl could give Puss in Boots a run for his money. Henceforth I was pleasantly surprised with the first act that established a dynamic and engaging romance set against their opposing backgrounds. His being a world of intriguing, analytical, scientific ocular research and hers a more existential and spiritual outlook toward life. The first scene is actually amazing and invests you in the characters right away, not an easy feat. Sadly she is only in about half of the movie. For a brief time, only half of her is in the movie as well. Oops. Teehee.
The story then jumps 7 years ahead and becomes about eyes and spiritual transfer. We learn that people’s eyes have incredibly unique patterns, much like fingerprints, and it is impossible for any two people to have an identical pattern. Conveniently, there is a global database with like a billion records of these eye patterns and Pitt’s best friend has access to it. They then begin to explore if whether reincarnation is indeed possible and can be proven by reoccurring iris patterns over time. Director Cahill directs competently throughout and produces a sweet and heart-warming final product. However, there were some major flaws for me.
First, right when I am really digging the movie, there is a scene when Pitt’s second wife delivers the line “Maybe the eye really is some kind of…….
<Pause. Hold on a minute. I had a Matrix bullet-time moment here. In that ellipsis time stood still and I stood in terror. She isn’t really going to finish that line is she? The writing has been so good to this point. Surely she isn’t going to say that. This isn’t THAT type of film. That’s some shit they would say in that 2 star movie I was talking about earlier. Surely not. Wait for it. Okay continue>
…..window to the soul.”
Dah dah DAH. Slaps forehead. They went there. She said it. Christ. Okay, you lost some credibility guys. I know. I’m tough. Ugh.
SECOND. Has anyone seen Johnathan Glazer’s Birth? I have. He did this already. And better. This just added some science mumbo jumbo.
Also, there are arguably some loopholes to the whole reincarnation thing. This is mainly exemplified in a post-credits epilogue where we see them researching famous people's eye patterns. Are only important people getting reincarnated? I mean the whole reincarnation thing is mathematically impossible anyhow but this seemed to suggest that only famous people or people related to Pitt’s character get to come back in another life. Hitler was one of them. Did Hitler do a retinal scan in the bunker. They explain earlier that you can get it from a hi-def photograph. Were there hi-def photos of Hitler’s eyes? I don’t think so. Anyway it doesn’t matter but the epilogue is stupid too.
Overall, I don’t want to slam it too hard because it is a good movie. It touched my heart and except for that agonizing piece of dialogue, it’s deftly handled. Great opening, great ending, extremely shaky middle. Birth is better though. Glazer rules!
★★★½ review by Lucy on Letterboxd
not the best movie i've ever seen but then again i'd probably watch anything if it had brit marling in it
★★★★½ review by Patrick Van der Spiegel on Letterboxd
I Origins (2014) - A Review
Ever since I've watched Another Earth (by the same director as this film, Mike Cahill), I knew that Cahill had something special. I'm not sure what it is, but both of his films that I've seen (Another Earth and I Origins) seem to give off this kind of vibe that makes his films − at least for me − very enjoyable.
I liked Another Earth, but liked I Origins even more. Even though this movie is, like other Letterboxd-reviewers pointed out, filled with pseudo-science, it was a very interesting watch.
Mike Cahill made a good choice to pair up again with Brit Marling. She gave a nice performance. The male protagonist, played by Michael Carmen Pitt (Seven Psychopaths) also did a good job.
Without going into detail, there are moments in the film where the characters are not likeable at all. Luckily, this problem is solved after the first act. I think this proves the ability of the actors, Michael Pitt in particular.
The science-fiction film tries to fade the line between science and spirituality in this "fictional" world, and does so perfectly. This picture also has some nice, high quality close-ups of eyes (in the style of the film poster) that you should definitely check out. Even if you don't care about the premise of the story, the movie is worth watching for these close-ups alone.
This film, filled to the brim with pseudo-science, unlikeable characters and an unbelievable premise, still managed to win me over with its beautiful performances and stunning cinematography. Even though it's basically all scientific nonsense, I'll never look at eyes the same way. Do yourself a favour and go pick up this movie.
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