If you’re tired of being pummeled by the giant robots, massive prehistoric lizards, and obligatory sequels of this summer’s blockbuster season, Mike Cahill’s new film I Origins might be just the palate cleanser you need. This is quiet, esoteric, independent science fiction that relies more on an interesting idea than large-scale special effects and an unlimited budget to get its point across. After premiering at Sundance back in January, where it walked away with the Alfred P. Sloane Feature Film Prize, the film will open July 18, and Fox Searchlight has released this new photo gallery provides you a closer look.
The film stars Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Pitt as Ian Gray, a PhD student in molecular biology who specializes in the evolution of the human eye. Cold and analytical, his world is thrown into upheaval by an encounter with Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) an exotic, free-spirited young woman who he ultimately loses. His research continues with his partners Karen (Brit Marling) and Kenney (Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead), and they make a shocking discovery that has implications not only in their chosen field, but also in the wider realms of science and spirituality, and leads Ian on a globetrotting adventure.
I Origins gathered largely positive reviews during its festival run, but I’m curious to see it for myself. Watching the previews and trailers, you get the impression that this is one of those that totally discounts actual scientific fact and data in favor of some touchy-feely spiritual nonsense. That could be annoying. Granted, I don’t know for sure that’s the case, but that’s definitely the feeling that you get. I do like most of the key people involved; Pitt is great in everything, Yeun is solid, and though Marling is hit and miss for me—I loved Sound of My Voice but despised Another Earth, which she wrote with Cahill—she gets the benefit of the doubt.
These photos don’t reveal much about the film, but gives you a good view of the characters going through their daily lives. The most telling images are the ones of Ian and Sofi. He definitely puts off a frumpy, mussed-up nerd vibe, which is especially apparent when juxtaposed against the beautiful, stylish Sofi. I have to admit that I laugh every time I look at that picture of the billboard.
This may qualify as spoilers, but it may not, since I gleaned this from the trailers, but if you’re sensitive to that, you may want to stop reading. Its appears that Sofi dies, but that a short time later, someone is born in India with her exact iris pattern, something that isn’t supposed to happen because they’re unique, like fingerprints. That’s where this ad comes into play, when Ian tries to track down this mystery person to satisfy both his personal and professional curiosities.