I Origins

Directed By: Mike Cahill

Starring: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi, William Mapother, and Cara Seymour

Faith seems to be on the minds of indie filmmakers this weekend.  We've got two movies where the central characters find themselves questioning their beliefs, or a lack thereof.  In Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, Colin Firth's Wei Ling Soo finds himself questioning whether there's something more than just the physical human experience when spiritualist Sophie Baker enters his life.  Similarly in Mike Cahill's I Origins, molecular biologist Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) confronts his staunch opposition to the creationist view of intelligent design when the beautiful Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) enters his life.  It's all about believing in something more this weekend.

After meeting at a Halloween party one night, Ian (Pitt) and Sofi (Berges-Frisbey) have a brief sexual encounter that doesn't quite culminate the way Ian would prefer.  Sofi leaves abruptly without providing any contact information.  As Ian searches for her, he begins to see the number eleven everywhere.  Eventually, this pattern of numbers leads him to a billboard with Sofi's big beautiful eyes that he uses to find her.  Interestingly enough, Ian is a biologist researching the origins of eyes along with his partners Karen (Brit Marling) and Kenny (Steven Yeun).  Granted, he's trying to disprove creationists' belief in intelligent design by demonstrating that eyes evolved.  With Sofi and Ian together now, romance ensues, and the two lovers plan to marry.  Life has a different, more tragic plan, however, that hinges on a major scientific discovery, one that will simultaneously help Ian prove to the world that eyes evolved and make him question whether he believes whether there's something more out there.

As a man of faith (even if I don't quite make it to church every single Sunday), I staunchly believe that science and religion do not have to be mortal enemies.  I do believe that there is something more than the physical world.  While I embrace science and the wealth of knowledge mankind has gained over the millennia through inquiry, I recognize that there has to be some catalyst, some original designer of it all.  The universe didn't just come together in the Big Bang for no apparent reason.  All that being said, I Origins is an intelligently crafted sci-fi drama that ultimately embraces my worldview by making the case for the merits of both scientific study and faith in a higher power.  It's a fascinating film that taps into the wonders of science and the marvels of the human anatomy.

While I Origins is a science fiction film first and foremost, it actually taps into the most basic human emotions and connects in a much more heartfelt manner than most other sci-fi flicks.  This is because it's not about some world out in space or some technologically advanced society.  I Origins is a film that tackles the human condition.  It's a soulful movie that uses a basic part of human anatomy to deliver a beautiful message about connectedness and spirituality, the defining traits of our humanity.  Fueled by a strong lead performance from Michael Pitt in which he oscillates between being an atheist guarded by emotional armor and a man wavering in his disbelief in a higher power as well as potent supporting performances from the actresses portraying the women in Ian’s life, I Origins delivers this message in a very powerful way.

I Origins is a small indie film that tackles grand themes and concepts.  I absolutely respect what director Mike Cahill has put together here.  It's gripping cinema that slowly reels you in.  It's a visually gorgeous film with an even greater understated beauty in its characters and message.  It's an intelligent film that sensibly marries science and religion.  I Origins gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.