Cinema review: I Origins with Q&A @ Raindance Film Festival 2014

Surrounded by cinemas and packed with movie addicts, Leicester Square Vue played host to a film festival launch so indie it made the edgiest kid on the block look painfully mainstream.

Launched in 1993, the Raindance Film Festival is something of a staple for the calendar of any discerning movie-goer.

Far from just another artsy voice, the prestigious festival brought us the UK debuts of not just Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994 but also Christopher Nolan’s Memento in 2000.

Kicking off the festival last Wednesday, I Origins is the latest offering from US writer and director Mike Cahill.

Known for his thought-provoking work and regular collaborations with Arbitrage actress Brit Marling, the Another Earth scribe has returned with a brilliantly unpredictable, bar-raising sci-fi.

Our first glance of scruffy scientist Dr. Ian Grey is at a Halloween party he attends as a PhD student.

He explains his fascination with human eyes and his rather strange hobby of taking pictures of them.

Intrigued by a mysterious woman with a partially-obscured face, he finds himself following her, taking a photo and, after an awkward moment in the toilets, she makes a run for it.

Distraught by her disappearance, the molecular biologist begins his search for the runaway party girl.

What follows is a story of intense love, crushing loss and a dogged pursuit of the truth. This is all neatly bound up with a scientific quest for an origin species which unearths a discovery just begging for a follow-up movie.

While Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Pitt gives a stellar performance (as does Astrid Berges-Frisbey in that lift scene), it’s the people working behind the scenes who really make this movie so refreshing.

Introduced by Raindance founder, Elliot Grove, the Q&A gave the incredibly cool, top-knot-sporting director Mike Cahill a chance to discuss his influences.

Surprisingly Greek playwright Aristophanes was up there, alongside everything from Kubrick classics to The Big Lebowski.

The American also mentioned cinematographer Markus Forderer as one to watch.

Cahill’s rumoured to be directing the pilot of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. This will mark a move into TV which seems to be a trend of late, prompting many directors to make the switch with great success as shown by HBO’s True Detective.

Having got off to a fantastic start, Raindance 2014 runs until October 5.

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures via YouTube, with thanks

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