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Originally published Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

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‘I Origins’: a curiously scientific love story

A review of Mike Cahill’s ‘I Origins,” the most romantic movie you’ll ever see in which gene sequencing is exhaustively discussed. Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald grants it three out of four stars.


Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review ★★★  

‘I Origins,’ with Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi, Cara Seymour, Kashish. Written and directed by Mike Cahill. 107 minutes. Rated R for some sexuality/nudity and language. Sundance Cinemas.

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Certainly the most romantic movie you’ll ever see in which gene sequencing is exhaustively discussed, “I Origins” shows us a young scientist haunted by something he cannot explain. Ian (Michael Pitt) is a molecular biologist fascinated by the human eye — and by Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), a soft-voiced, free-spirited beauty whose gold-flecked eyes seem to hold serene secrets. In the movie’s first act, their idyll is cruelly interrupted; years later, Ian finds an unexpected way to connect with her again.

Writer/director Mike Cahill, whose previous film was “Another Earth,” seems to be creating his own genre: science-fiction-flavored films, photographed in uncannily lovely light, featuring the uniquely ethereal yet cerebral presence of Brit Marling (who here plays Ian’s lab colleague Karen). “I Origins” seems to have a clearer focus than “Another Earth,” yet its story is just as solemnly preposterous. Everyone in this film, including a white peacock who makes a cameo appearance, is absurdly good-looking, particularly in their lab coats; many of the shots look like perfume ads; and the dialogue includes lines like “Maybe the eye really is some kind of window to the soul.”

And yet ... well, I don’t mind admitting that “I Origins” got to me, just a bit; the very idea of a dishy man of science being bowled over by the mysteries of the soul is quite irresistible, and Pitt and Marling really sell the plot’s implausible twists. Love at first sight is a cliché, to be sure, but “I Origins” finds some freshness in it; ultimately, it’s about finding a home in someone’s eyes.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com



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