There is a song by American band Bright Eyes, entitled We Are Nowhere, And It’s Now, where Conor Oberst (vocalist) asks us in the first stanza, “Why are you scared to dream of God, When it’s salvation that you want? You see stars that clear have been dead for years, but the idea just lives on.” Seconds before he also said “And if you swear that there’s no truth and who cares, how come you say it like you’re right?”. Well, wise words, also for people who do not see in God the salvation they need, or in any other religion, nor absolute nothingness. Their only salvation is in life, live, and as they can, refusing to die not thinking about it. This review is about I Origins, but is full of doubts and examples.
For I Origins, the considered Best Film at the last Festival of Sitges 2014, reflects about Death, Science, Spirituality, Reincarnation, Signs, Etc., and does all uppercase (including “etc.”), under a New Age halo this indie film, as pseudo-intellectual as pseudo-romantic and perfect for anyone who has never thought much about anything that writer-director Mike Cahill aims to show us here. The actor Michael Pitt is Ian Gray, our main character, a doctoral student in molecular biology that is obsessed with photographing human eyes, because, as he says, each person has their own (and it’s not the same to take pics to fingerprints. You don’t get girls). In a boring Halloween party, Ian meets a girl of singular eyes (it is the only thing we see after her disguise) that from the moment she unexpectedly disappears, leaves Ian with little obsession to find her.
Gray, who is scientific to the end (wearing glasses, in fact the same as my father), is in love with Sofi, as we find out later, the character played by actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey and, following the 11:11 signs, he just find her and see her again. She flees from him, but not before giving hin a chewing gum; he puts her the headphones of his MP3 player to listen to the musical group The Dø, before she can go away. Since then, they become inseparable. I’m not saying anything else about it not to spoil and destroy something that is already destroyed in trailers -the plot of the movie-, but in a moment of I Origins, Michael Pitt says a thought that came to him in the last moment of his past relationship; remember that minutes before that thinking he already had put up wedding ring in her hand… Anyway, a very scientific guy, but there you were thinking with your little penis.
Beyond its slow motion scenes of explicit pedantry or non-typical clichés of American independent cinema (such as the abuse of romantic relationships that arise in a unique, surreal conversations, in a very personal humor, but always pervaded and fun, where normal affairs are not allowed), I must admit, when addressing my opinion about this film, what interests me the most is the bottom of it. With I Origins I had the same queasy feeling that causes me the knock on my door of a few Evangelists, Mormons or Movementarians, who come to my home not being invited and want to show me a light I didn’t ask for and assuming I do not enjoy my darkness. It is a matter of education: I do not mess with the beliefs of people who only remembers God for good (eg, thanking him for having them left alive from a serious illness) and not for evil (illness by the Devil?), do not get into mine.
In any case, as in this world you must always show a position for everything I say I’m agnostic (making positioning!) and, despite or because of it, I have a bit of the other two thoughts. For example, I believe in the soul if, as Lisa Simpson says paraphrasing Neruda, laughter is the language of Soul, but I think, is the Alzheimer the death of the soul, then? It’s just an example, but I could put several more. Do non-human animals have no souls? When I die, I will see again all my loved ones? Several animals are. Does that include my former girlfriends? And how will lay that to my current couple, once I get to Heaven, or even before I arrive if she is very jealous? Furthermore, according to what belief it depends? Do we have confirmed that John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah? What if actually dying we reincarnate, what good is it to me?, if what I don’t want is to forget this present life, not have others which I also will forget, but which I will supposedly keep a residual memory, for me useless, since it will have value only for those people who have the great good fortune to know me more than once in a life. What is the point of this life itself if this one I can remember it? Also, what Heaven are we talking about, assuming that until the day of Revelation we are all dead and then it will be when a resurrection will come, it will be to send somes to Hell or just kill them all? Finally, not dwell more advisable, when Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he die, shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die”, referred to the belief that yes, he existed and was the first hippie of humanity, or must believe in a more spiritual sense? Nothing convinces me, so I appreciate the interest, but not convince me. If I have not gotten myself, not you will, being Mike Cahill or Antonio Maria Rouco Varela.
And why I have the bitter feeling that I Origins is trying to convince me of something? Simple, because the director, in the context of a real and present world in which science investigates to find or do not find answers, and where religion fills those gaps or not with their interpretations, uses a very tricky tactic with which try both shake hands: making impossible into something empirically likely. There comes a time when, or he develops new and interesting topic, or the thing stays in a joke, and finally does not develop. For instance, in Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe, 2009), all have an internal logic that does not negatively infects the viewer (except that the film didn’t like him); we see the main character, or rather, we see his viewpoint, development and denouement. Enter the Void is consistent and honest with itself and with the audience, I Origins isn’t.
Moreover, the protagonist is not a smart man, he is a man with studies thay makes us believe in the first half of the film that he is a person full of feelings, to suddenly show that no, that with a hug is all forgotten. His girlfriend we don’t know what it is, but although childish and unable to speak openly about personal matters of the past, she has an obsession with arguing with him about whether God exists or not, about spiritual topics and everything connected with this. A fictionalized example of one of the many conversations held on the same subject during the movie:
-Ian: I’m a scientist, I believe in the evidence.
-Sofi: But see, I believe in God and am very spiritual. Become you too, on the Internet there a lot of info about it.
-Ian: But I’m a scientist! Show me your boob… I mean eyes, I’ll take you some pictures.
-Sofi: Are you going to steal my Soul?
Well look what an evidence! In short, and as more seriously, I Origins is well directed, despite the previously mentioned and of being a little predictable, but the last revelation at the end of the film is sufficiently emotional and unexpected (?) as to raise the almost approved, but because my soul is full of kindness and appreciate the ideas and good intentions above the bad things I take care of. I, the one now on the perishable and deciduous packaging of my immortal soul.