Every movie I've seen with Brit Marling (The East, Sound of My Voice) has had the strangest mix of cheese and spiritual shenanigans—and yet, against all odds, they've been compelling in their lo-fi earnestness. Is she the reason this bizarre mélange kinda works? The newest Marling entry is I Origins, director Mike Cahill's film that, with mixed results, explores one scientist's beliefs.
Ian (Michael Pitt) is a biologist studying the evolution of the human eye (get it? eye origins? hyuk, hyuk). At a party, he hooks up with, and then loses, really hot Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). He eventually tracks her down, because, oh look, she's staring at him from a billboard! (She's an eyeball model. Which is a job, apparently.) This is where I Origins goes into full science-vs.-spirituality mode, with Ian blathering on about microscopes and Sofi repping for the woo-woo faction. Despite their philosophical differences, their love affair is hot 'n' heavy—until Ian and his lab assistant (Marling) make a huge scientific discovery and the honeymoon comes to an abrupt end.
Flash forward eight years and I Origins takes another turn, with the scientists making another revolutionary discovery—let's just say that iris recognition technology starts factoring into the debate over god's existence. Yes, things get that cringe-y and goofy, but still, somehow—despite the corny twists, soft-focused love story, and ridiculous spiritual whizbangery—I Origins is not strictly terrible... a fact that's just as ludicrous as its storyline.