TMN Movie Review: "I Origins"

3.5

 

Rating: R

Length: 113 minutes

Release Date: September 24, 2014

Directed by: Mike Cahill

Genre: Drama / Sci-Fi

 

The popular saying goes that "the eyes are the windows of the soul." However, in "I Origins," Dr. Ian Gray sets out to prove that the eyes are, in fact, windows to indisputable, scientific proof of evolution. Because the eyes are one of the body's most complex organs and are believed to have evolved throughout an intricate 12-step process that took millions of years to complete, Dr. Gray expects his extensive research on the human eye to result in solid proof of Charles Darwin's popular theory. However, through a journey of intense love, loss and scientific discovery, Gray finds the eyes to be windows to something much greater and potentially much different than he had anticipated.

"I Origins" is the second effort from writer and director Mark Cahill. Cahill's previous film, "Another Earth," was about the possibility of a second earth existing within the solar system. It masterfully exhibited the director's ability to tell an effective, engaging science fiction story without the use of a big budget or special effects. That ability shines once again in "I Origins," which treats complex scientific themes in a uniquely beautiful way by the end of the film. "I Origins" stars Michael Pitt, Britt Marling and Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Dr. Ian Gray, played by Pitt, is a scientist who only believes in what he can see until an uncanny series of coincidences involving the number "11" changes his life forever. He meets a deeply spiritual, care-free woman named Sofi, played by Berges-Frisbey, at a Halloween party. Sofi's face is disguised with a mask that conceals all her features except for her eyes, the most beautiful pair that Ian has ever seen. After a brief romantic encounter, the two go their separate ways.

Ian follows the trail of 11's straight onto the number 11 bus, where he encounters Sofi once again, and a whirlwind romance ensues. He is a man of science, and she is a woman of faith. He believes only in what solid evidence can reveal, but she believes in broad spiritual concepts, such as God, angels, fate and reincarnation. Their opposing views, however, have no ill effect on their love for one another, and the two could not be happier together.

Meanwhile, Ian and his lab partner Karen perform research on the eye that they hope to use to disprove the intelligent design theory. They hypothesize that eye color, shape and iris pattern is so complex that, like a fingerprint, it is 100 percent unique to the individual and cannot be duplicated under any circumstances. Ian and Karen form a close bond through their work and become lab partners as well as friends.

Unexpectedly, tragedy strikes, and Sofi passes away suddenly in an accident, which leaves Ian without a chance to say goodbye. Heartbroken, Ian eventually goes on to marry Karen and write a best-seller called "The Complete Eye" that is based on their research. Following their union and the birth of their son, the two make an explosive discovery that shatters the research findings they have accumulated over the years and sends Ian in search of answers once again. This time, the search takes him to India, where an eight-year-old girl has the exact eye pattern as Sofi who has been dead for eight years.

This is where the film stars asking the big questions about reincarnation, God, coincidence and other spiritual phenomena. The audience is invited to explore these issues through the eyes of Ian, who is being forced to reconsider his atheist views and delve into the very topics that Sofi had encouraged him toward while she was alive. While the film raises heavy questions, to director Mark Cahill's credit, he does not spoon feed answers to the audience. Rather, he allows them to draw their own conclusions and interpret the presented information as they see fit.

"I Origins" is at once a romance film, a philosophical drama and a science fiction tale. While juggling all these themes at once could have had disastrous consequences, Cahill's soulful, intellectual and deft direction style result in a beautifully complex, intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying film. It culminates in a way that draws all the previous elements together while still leaving the audience plenty of room to make up their minds about the truths touched upon in the story.

"I Origins" is an intelligent, thought-provoking film meant to be viewed with patience and open-mindedness. The film is executed with a fine balance of fearlessness and sensitivity. This dichotomy gives rise to one of the best science fiction films of the year. It invites the audience to explore the exciting and terrifying possibility that there is much more to sense than what the eyes can see.

Tags: I Origins