Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Movie review: Exploring the unanswerable in moving ‘I Origins’
Review » Science meets spirituality in thoughtful drama.
First Published Jul 31 2014 03:48 pm • Last Updated Aug 01 2014 04:26 pm

In the thought-provoking new drama "I Origins," director-screenwriter Mike Cahill continues the exploration he began in his debut, the 2011 Sundance Film Festival breakthrough "Another Earth," of that razor’s edge between the two halves of science fiction — the science and the fiction.

Cahill’s new movie walks on the line between the scientific and the spiritual, with a couple who represent both sides of that line. It’s in their relationship and its aftermath that Cahill builds a considerable amount of emotion and tension.

At a glance


‘I Origins’

The eyes have it in this stylish and thought-provoking tale of science and spirituality.

Where » Broadway Centre Cinemas.

When » Opens Friday, Aug. 1.

Rating » R for some sexuality/nudity and language.

Running time » 107 minutes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) is a molecular biologist with a fascination for the human eye, which is why his research centers on finding proof of the evolution of the eye — research that would, as a side note, put to rest the "intelligent design" crowd’s argument that the eye is too beautiful to have been created through Darwinian trial-and-error.

Ian meets Sofi (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey), a French model and artist with a firm belief in the supernatural. She defends her belief fervently, noting that the blind worms on which Ian experiments would look at light and color as supernatural phenomena — so who’s to say whether what we think of as fantasy is just outside our perception?

Ian and Sofi fall in love, but their whirlwind courtship ends tragically. Years later, as Ian has settled into marriage and parenthood with his lab partner, Karen (Brit Marling, Cahill’s "Another Earth" co-writer and onscreen muse), the scientists are confronted with information, regarding the supposedly unique patterns of the human iris, that may upend everything they know about life on Earth.

Cahill’s visual style leans toward the dreamy, and he has honed his technique since "Another Earth." The montages depicting Ian and Sofi’s love affair are sweet and magical, a contrast to Ian and Karen’s lab work, which is depicted as clean and clinical, yet brimming with the energy of discovery. A late detour to India adds another dimension, as Ian’s science meets the rough-and-tumble of real life.

"I Origins" asks a lot of big questions, more than Cahill’s script can answer, but that’s part of its intrigue. The best science fiction employs scientific inquiry to explore the unanswerable, and this movie does that with visual flair and emotional resonance.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.