Review: I Origins by Mike Cahill
By Conor Plosia
The new film from writer/director Mike Cahill premiered at Sundance this January – his previous film, Another Earth, also premiered at Sundance in 2011. I Origins stars Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) as Dr. Ian Gray, a molecular biologist who works with the eyes of all kinds of species, but particularly those of humans.
Gray has an infatuation with photographing people’s eyes for his studies, so when he meet a mysterious woman named Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) with beautiful eyes at a part, he quickly takes an interest in her. But Sofi runs off during intimacy, and Dr. Gray’s search for the mystery woman begins (with only a picture of her eyes to go off of). He sees the eyes on a billboard and discovers her identity, which subsequently leads to him running into her on a train. Despite their very different views on existence, the two fall in love. Sofi becomes a key subject in Gray’s scientific studies, and Gray is forced to look beyond the realm of science and statistics.
I Origins is a realism-based science fiction film that makes us all look at the world with a different set of eyes. Whether you’re a theist or an atheist, the film will likely raise spiritual questions for you about what happens after death: what happens to our souls? Do we simply wade on earth? Do we join those passed before in the kingdom of heaven? I Origins doesn’t presume to have the answers, but it allows us to view these questions in a different light.
Wrapped inside this though-provoking piece is charm, humor, tragedy, romance and scientific discovery on a global scale. The films takes place mostly in New York City, but Dr. Gray’s quest for universal human truths takes him across the world. The film is a crowning achievement for modern science fiction cinema, as it does not rely on intense action or violence; instead, the search for knowledge and the progression of hard science cause the narrative to develop. The film can be likened to Duncan Jones’s indie hit Moon in that both are slow-paced but build to incredible realizations by their protagonists.
Standout performances from Michael Pitt and Britt Marling take this film to a higher level. Their chemistry pushes the film further: the characters’ quest for information is fueled by the passion of these talented young actors. This is a film to see, no matter what your preconceived notions: it will draw you in and deliver throughout regardless. Cahill’s use of ideas about where we might go and what we can discover in ourselves approach brilliance. Are we born with a predisposed personality? Is it possible we posses ingrained memories from past lives? I Origins might just make you believe that when it comes to where were come from and where we might go, the possibilities are limitless.