Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

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  • Summary: Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt), a molecular biologist studying the evolution of the eye, finds his work permeating his life after a brief encounter with an exotic young woman (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) who slips away from him. As his research continues years later with his lab partner Karen (Brit Marling), they make a stunning scientific discovery that has far reaching implications and complicates both his scientific and spiritual beliefs. Traveling half way around the world, he risks everything he has ever known to validate his theory. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jan 26, 2014
    I Origins is a bracingly venturesome, exploratory work that achieves an exceptional balance between the emotional and intellectual aspects of its unusual story.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 18, 2014
    Brit Marling, who starred in and co-wrote Cahill’s debut feature, “Another Earth,” is very good as Ian’s lab assistant and eventual wife, and a young Indian girl named Kashish, a nonactress I would guess, is unforgettable.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 24, 2014
    A film that aims for the stars and may have found one here on earth.
  4. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jan 26, 2014
    Persuasive sci-fi tech talk, soulful romance and an earnest stab at metaphysics combine in director Mike Cahill's polished second feature.
  5. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jul 24, 2014
    Although the film and the actors keep on looking good, this solemn, soppy, fantasy has nothing to say about science or faith.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jul 17, 2014
    On the face of it, tackling the warring sides of science and the spirit seemed a good fit for the writer-director, who continues to be drawn to existential themes. There are occasional flashes of the exceptional, but the film's dodgy story can't sustain them.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jan 26, 2014
    The film amounts to a lousy sort of magic show, schematically pulling strings to prove its own points.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Aug 10, 2014
    Michael Pitt plays a biologist who's researching the eye with lab assistant Brit Marling. His fascination with the subject and love for a woman ultimately lead him to questioning his strictly scientific beliefs. Although there are some philosophical discussions, the script is intelligent (as opposed to intellectual). It's mysteries slowly unfold with smart plotting and potent performances. Director Mike Cahill ("Another Earth") tells an enthralling story with intriguing visual style. More than science fiction, this film is intriguingly spiritual, while being completely compelling as a film experience. Expand
  2. Jul 24, 2014
    “What would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?”

    Science and spirituality is at the forefront of Mike Cahill’s
    second directorial feature. If that doesn’t already excite you, perhaps you have never had those intense, elongated conversations about either or both of the subjects. Two of the most divisive subjects in human history are the real stars of Cahill’s second film; a promising feature centered on bold claims, knowledge and questioning.

    In 2011, Mike Cahill premiered his feature length debut Another Earth at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews. In 2012, I was able to finally enjoy Another Earth and became acquainted with one of the most promising American indie film directors working today. Three years after his life-altering debut feature, I Origins proves to be a personal cinematic study of bravado that questions whether science or spirituality is the true way to prove the existence of human beings.

    I Origins doesn’t quite reach the level of Another Earth, but it does get to within reach in bold and dramatic fashion.

    Cahill is faithful to a cast that has served him well in previous endeavors. He recasts indie darling Brit Marling as Karen, a sophisticated scientist who works faithfully next to Ian Gray (the always impressive Michael Pitt). Together, using iris scanning and sophisticated technological advancements of scientific study, the two become lab rats obsessed with the intent of disproving the existence of a spiritual being greater than the human race.

    It becomes clear that Ian has a skeptical view of spirituality. Cahill, who never labels his protagonists and steers away from religion whenever possible, offers up well thought out arguments for both beliefs and Ian’s distrust in anything pertaining to the soulfulness of humanity. Ian’s life is anything but black and white, especially once he gazes upon a billboard and into the eyes of a beautiful woman by the name of Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). Ian looks for Sofi, and upon first gaze, the two fall in love. For some, I Origins may be mistaken as an eternal love-story based on the first act. But through a surprising sequence of unexpected tragedy, the film takes an unexpected turn into the deep observation of chance and possibility. What begins for Ian is a new phase in his life where, like Dr. Frankenstein, he plays God using science, together with his lab partner and own personal Igor, Karen, dictates and questions his very beliefs to his core. Through this, I Origins becomes an endless fable of answer seeking for Ian. The answers, however, are never revealed to the audience.

    Over the next few years, Ian becomes a seemingly ordinary family man. Under the surface, he evolves into a pioneer in his research and studies. The film offers many unanswered questions as well as an abundance of coincidences that take away any authenticity of the screenplay’s flow. This aside, Cahill retains his audience’s curiosity when Ian finds a match of his beloved Sofi’s unique eyes in India with a little home-less Indian girl Salomina (Kashish). What begins for Ian is the key to unlocking the connection between the past lives of people living, dead and the memories that they believe are retained through iris patterns. The film is given momentum and brought to new life in the third and exhilarating final act.

    Since its premiere at Sundance this year, I Origins has been my most anticipated indie of 2014, and I could happily say that I did not disappoint. Kept together with an ensemble effort by its cast, lead by the poignant Pitt, Marling and Steven Yuen of AMC’s The Walking Dead for good measure, the film becomes one of the loudest commentaries of the year for spirituality and science without ever answering too much and leaving one to make their own decisions.

    Originality is the basis of Cahill’s film and the mantra of his filmmaking technique. Eyeing the greater picture of narrative and inciting cinephiles, intellects and storytellers, I Origins is a bold voice of the future of magnificent independent feature films. Much like Ian itself, there is always a grey area of doubt, and perhaps, the film may hit an emotional and personal chord with people who have strong faiths or strong beliefs in the use of data and proof. Thankfully, I Origins does nothing to prove either subject as a favourite or underdog. Instead, the film offers a platform for intense conversation and analysis well after the final credits roll.

    Art is one of the largest catalysts towards asking the unanswerable and questioning the unbelievable. Cahill’s film style could be best described as a cinematic lens into the reality of grand human perception. Ambitious and wholly entertaining, I Origins may very well be one of the longest talked about films of the year and surely the most talked about indie film of the summer.
  3. Jul 27, 2014
    An intriguing look at science, spirit, interpersonal relationships and the ties that bind them, all wrapped up in a captivating story. It's unfortunate,however, that some pacing problems, lame attempts at humor and tech-speak dialogue bog down the flow of this otherwise-engaging release. Expand