I Origins (Fox Searchlight)
Rated R for some sexuality/nudity, and language .
Starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi, Cara Seymour, William Mapother.
Written and directed by Mike Cahill.
Faith and science just can’t seem to get along. Every time someone claims there’s a supernatural power at work, some dude in a lab coat kills the buzz. The tension between what can be measured and what cannot is the crux of I Origins, a film written and directed by Mike Cahill.
Michael Pitt stars as Ian, a scientist who falls for a beautiful Argentine model named Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). At the same time, he is also working in a lab, trying to unlock the mysteries of the eye. He takes close-up photos of several pupils as part of his study. His lab assistant is Karen (Brit Marling). On the day he and Sofi attempt to get married, Karen summons him back to the lab since their work has paid off and the species with the gene they need (a worm) has finally been isolated (it’s a big scientific breakthrough). Later that night, Sofi is killed in a terrifying elevator mishap, and Ian falls into despair. After several weeks, Karen shows up to comfort him, and they fall in love, eventually marrying and having a child named Tobias eith years later.
When Tobias is chosen for a study on autism, his eyes are scanned into a database that shows he has the same pupils of a deceased farmer from Idaho.
When Ian researches the matched eye pupils. He also discovers there’s a similar pupil match to Sofi’s eyes, Ian sets off to India, searching for the little girl who was born about nine months after Sofi’s death (the timing of little Tobias’ birth also coincides with the death of the Idaho farmer). As Ian searches for the little homeless orphan in New Delhi, he is faced with the reality that there might be a power greater than science at work (like reincarnation).
I Origins is a though-provoking film that suggests challenging your faith in higher powers or science might be healthy. Using a gimmick like reincarnation is interesting, if not a little over-sentimental. There is an emotional payoff for the lead characters at the end of the movie, but once you give it a little thought – you realize I Origins is pure fantasy and doesn’t support either paradigm.
Michael Pitt’s and Brit Marling turn in adequate performances but aren’t exactly ready for A-list yet. Up-and-coming Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is the bright spot in the film.
Despite its super-sweet conclusion, I Origins is rightly R-rated for nudity, language and sexuality.