REVIEW: I Origins

21 07 2014

I OriginsThe flaws of writer/director Mike Cahill’s “I Origins” have become more apparent as I have thought about the movie more in retrospect.  But remarkably, this awareness has not led me to think lesser of the product as a whole.  I still find the film’s aspirations noble, and Cahill manages to achieve his objectives even while stumbling (unlike his prior feature, “Another Earth,” which tripped out of the gate and never recovered).

The film is rather disjointed, feeling like two separate movies conjoined in the editing room – similar to Stanley Kubrick’s assemblage of “Full Metal Jacket.”  The first half of “I Origins” follows Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) as he attempts to disprove God with his studies of the human eye while romancing the free-spirited and spiritually inclined Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey).  In this section, Cahill’s dialogue is extremely overwrought and overwritten, yet it does manage to communicate the themes of the piece with great cogency.

After a mid-film climax that ultimately proves to be the apex of the entire story, “I Origins” forks off in an entirely different direction as the possibility of spiritual phenomena such as reincarnation.  This segment is quieter and more understated, perhaps leaving some things unsaid that ought to have been spoken.  In spite of those shortcomings, though, Cahill manages to ensnare us in a largely open-ended cosmic mystery.

The end does come rather abruptly, almost as if a projectionist had forgotten to show the last reel of the film (to use an illustration from a now bygone era).  Still, “I Origins” feels more or less complete even without a conventional resolution.  The film’s nearly two-hour runtime flew by – faster than most entertaining trifles being mass produced on the studio assembly line, I’d like to add.  In that period, Cahill raises a great deal of intriguing questions about tough subjects and discusses them with a fairly satisfying thoroughness.  B+3stars