I Origins movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert (2024)


I Origins movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert (1)

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“If scientificanalysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to befalse, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”—DalaiLama XIV

The conflict between science and religion, fact and faithhas been a starting point for great fiction for centuries. Mike Cahill, thewriter/director of “Another Earth” and “I Origins,” is fascinated with wherethese seemingly diametrically opposed viewpoints conflict or, moreinterestingly, intersect. Can we be scientific and faithful? Can we believe inforces beyond our control even as we live in a world increasingly fascinatedwith explaining how everything works? With “I Origins,” Cahill takes thisinternal conflict common in so many people and pegs something of a Puzzle Movieon to it as one science-minded man experiences that which he cannot explainwith traditional reason. It is a film that can sometimes frustrate in its supporting charactersbut Cahilland his talented cast are unapologetically willing to explore the kind ofcomplex intangibles that filmmakers often ignore or merely turn intopretentious drivel.


Dr. Ian Grey (Michael Pitt) is obsessed with the human eye,one of the elements of biology that makes us unique and that religions aroundthe world have used as proof of the Divine Creator. We all have eye biometricsthat are specific to us, and various cultures have viewed the eye as a windowto the soul or even the thumbprint of a creator. Grey wants to get to thebottom of the evolution of the eye, working with colleagues Kenny (Steven Yeun)and Karen (Brit Marling). Then he meets a model whose eyes essentially take himemotional prisoner.

At a party, Ian has a sexy encounter with a mostly maskedwoman named Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and can’t stop thinking about her. Hefinds himself pushed by fate or destiny to a billboard of her unforgettableeyes, eventually tracking Sofi down and beginning a passionate romance with thewoman who will change his life. While the preview for “I Origins” gives awayalmost the entire film, we’ll stop the plot synopsis here—it’s better if youdon’t know much—but Ian’s relationship with Sofi sends him down a verydifferent path than the scientific one on which he began. “I Origins” is a filmabout how destiny and love can lead us to different revelations than we couldhave possibly reached without them. Anyone who has known love can attest to itsability to forever alter a charted course and Cahill’s emotionally raw approachto filmmaking gets to the truth of that in a memorable way.

It’s also a remarkably confident film technically. Cinemahas had a love affair with the eye for a century now and Cahill andcinematographer Markus Förderer take the timeless image of the eye and give itemotional resonance in the way they use it, balancing the film's two equally important halves. Cahill and his technical teamwisely ground their film, only occasionally allowing it flights of visualfancy. We spend more time with Ian and Karen in a lab than we do in existentialpursuit of a greater purpose. And that makes the film’s more extremely philosophicalthemes forgivable. Cahill's work here is a notable technical advancement over "Another Earth," proving he's not just a filmmaker with big ideas but one who can pull them off with visual confidence as well. There's a flow in the cinematography and editing that carries us along, only occasionally becoming untethered to a pretentious degree. Cahill’s smartest move was to not allow his film’s “bigissues” to overwhelm the human story at its core. And he’s helped notably byyet-another strong performance from Michael Pitt, an actor who has shown suchrange just recently from his terrifying work on TV's “Hannibal” to this relatable,likable performance.


The film's biggest problem is that the two women in Ian’s life aren’t as well-drawn as theycould have been in a superior film. Sofi and Karen feel a bit too much likeobvious opposites—the "spiritual model" and the "scientific technician." If bothcharacters were allowed a bit more of their alternate, “I Origins” would havebeen a more interesting venture. For, in the end, it’s a film that argues wedon’t live in a world of science OR faith but one in which both will give us adeeper understanding of who we are and where we’re going.

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Film Credits

I Origins movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert (9)

I Origins (2014)

Rated Rfor some sexuality/nudity, and language

113 minutes


Michael Pittas Ian Gray

Brit Marlingas Karen

Astrid Bergès-Frisbeyas Sofi

Steven Yeunas Kenny

Archie Panjabias Priya Varma

Cara Seymouras Dr. Jane Simmons


  • Mike Cahill


  • Mike Cahill

Director of Photography

  • Markus Förderer


  • Mike Cahill

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I Origins movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert (2024)


I Origins movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert? ›

“I Origins” is a film about how destiny and love can lead us to different revelations than we could have possibly reached without them. Anyone who has known love can attest to its ability to forever alter a charted course and Cahill's emotionally raw approach to filmmaking gets to the truth of that in a memorable way.

What is the main idea of the movie I Origins? ›

Evolution vs Spirituality is the main theme here. Miohael Pitt plays molecular biologist Ian Gray, who is working diligently to prove that the evolution of the eye is the scientific proof debunking creationism and spirituality.

What is the Origin movie about summary? ›

What does the end of I Origins mean? ›

In the last scene, Ian is astonished by the inexplicable Salomina's fear to elevators, that's where Sofia was severed in half. His silence all the way down, possibly indicate that Ian is accepting Salomina as a reincarnation of Sofia. This spiritual event wins over his scientific beliefes.

Is I Origins worth watching? ›

Such a beautiful movie that not nearly enough people talk about in my opinion. Just rewatched it for the first time since i was in high school and not only is the story telling wonderfully unique but the plot and message of the film touch me every single time.

What is the main message of the film? ›

Webster's Encyclopedic Unbridged Dictionary of the English Language defines theme as “a subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic: . . .”3 In other words, a theme is the idea, premise, or purpose of a movie. It is the whole reason why movies are made. The theme is the heart of the movie.

Is I Origins based on a true story? ›

Mike Cahill's new film I Origins is technically science fiction. But the technology in it is firmly rooted in reality.

What is the point of the movie Origin? ›

Explores triumphs and challenges of outcasts and "untouchables" in three historical contexts: Black Americans experiencing institutional racism during slavery and in Jim Crow South, European Jews targeted for subjugation and extermination in Nazi Germany, and the Dalit population being dehumanized in India.

What is the theme of origin story? ›

In Origin Story, Christian takes readers on a wild ride through the entire 13.8 billion years we've come to know as "history." By focusing on defining events (thresholds), major trends, and profound questions about our origins, Christian exposes the hidden threads that tie everything together - from the creation of the ...

Is Origin a good movie? ›

With Origin, DuVernay once again proves that she is a masterful director, with fresh ideas and a fearlessness that modern Hollywood could really do with more. Even in the film's weaker moments, Origin is a work of thrilling originality. Fresh score.

What is the storyline of I Origins on Netflix? ›

A young scientist and his lab partner set out to dis/prove, once and for all, the origins of mankind by studying eyes and the chromosome for sight in various species.

What happened to Sophie in I Origins? ›

Ian removes his eye bandages to be able to pull himself onto the next floor, but Sofi is scared and hesitates. When Ian finally convinces her to be pulled up, the elevator abruptly begins moving and Ian is terrified when he realizes her lower half has been chopped off.

Is I Origins religious? ›

This is a religious movie, in a vague, metaphorical, "something is out there" way, that isn't half as deep as it would like to be.

What is the message of the movie I Origins? ›

“I Origins” is a film about how destiny and love can lead us to different revelations than we could have possibly reached without them.

What is the I Origins movie about? ›

Why is I Origins Rated R? ›

I Origins is rated R by the MPAA for some sexuality/nudity, and language. This additional information about the movie's content is taken from the notes of various Canadian Film Classification boards: Violence: - Brief portrayal of violence in an accident context, with little blood or detail shown.

What is the film I Came By about? ›

What is the movie I do about? ›

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