iorginsAnother Five Seconds, Please

I Origins
Stars: Michael Pitt, Brit Starling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Punjabi and Cara Seymour
Director/Scriptwriter: Mike Cahill
Composer: Fall On Your Sword
Fox Searchlight
Rating: R
Running Length: 117 Minutes
There is a red herring in the script of “I Origins.”  I thought in this story of a “discovery,” that someone would find an extra, previously unknown gene that would link present-day man to Neanderthal Man.  However, that is not the situation here. Writer/director Mike Cahill gives us an interesting story and premise, but fails to deliver at the end. Like a sentence without a period or the second shoe that doesn't drop. “I Origins” was shown at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won a major award for the science story, which the director/writer won three years ago for “Another Earth.“ Cahill works well with Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) and Michael Pitt (no relation to Brad) does look very much like Brad. That would make a film in itself, how many look-alike Brad Pitts in the world?
“I Origins” begins with Ian (Michael Pitt) who is a molecular biologist, rather laid-back, and studying the eye. His new assistant, Karen (Brit Marling) is his opposite, fun, smart, and willing to go that extra mile.  They are studying where the gene to make an eye came from, and Karen starts her studies on worms, which are always blind. At this time, Ian meets Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), and he asks to photograph her eyes, which are unusual colored. She is more adolescent than woman, and they are headed to the altar. Tragedy strikes. Years pass, Karen finds that elusive eye gene, Karen and Ian marry and have a wonderful career ahead of them. However, their first child is not well, and in researching the illness, they happen upon an amazing co-incidence, their child’s eye pattern is identical to that of a man dead several years. The eye identification method, used now in government, is flawless…or is it? Randomly, they try  Sofi’s eye pattern and lo and behold, her pattern comes up in India. To find the girl, Ian goes to India and puts up a billboard with a photo of the girl’s eyes. The unusual eye (reference the "National Geographic" cover of a woman in the Middle East with green eyes) is unusual in many aspects. This is like  having an identical fingerprint pattern with someone else, and supposedly that is not possible. Writer Mike Cahill takes this similarity further into a spiritual realm.
The storyline does not move smoothly in this film. Ian is a scientist who borders on eccentric. His falling for Sofi seems too fast/too soon and there is no chemistry between the actors. A certain tense scene brings out a moment of togetherness, but when Pitt and Marling work, they act as a team and their story runs smoother. Co-incidences happen and I don't object, after all, Fleming almost threw away the glass dish that was growing the first penicillin. I did like depicting the work and work and work that scientists do to get a result. When Ian states to Karen that there are about 400,000 possibilities of finding an eye gene in a worm, she says she had better get started. When Ian is in India and meets Priya (Archie Punjabi from “The Good Wife,”) they work well together, too and in one scene, her face goes from bored listening to almost-interested to “let’s get started,” as she agrees to help.
I thought the film disjointed at times, as is the soundtrack for this movie. Sometimes, it is chunks of sound. The first third of the story is rushed, and the middle section of marriage and child, slowly paced, while the last third moves faster with that unsatisfactory ending. Five seconds more, please.
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner
For more film reviews on spiritual/science fiction, see the following:
Acts of God