Since busting on to the scene with her work in two of Sundance 2011’s biggest hits, Brit Marling’s next roles have been the source of constant speculation and chatter. But the multi-hyphenate’s skills go far beyond just acting, and one move was always for sure – she would be reteaming with Zal Batmanglij for another film, titled The East. With Marling serving as female lead and co-writer with director Batmanglij, the film was in need of strong male lead to play against Marling. They may have gotten that with Alexander Skarsgård, who is in talks to join the film.

We don’t know much about the film (and I don’t expect that to change, considering that the little we do know seems so intriguing and not in need of any sort of big elaboration), but we do know that it will revolve “around a female agent who infiltrates an eco-terrorist group. The title of the movie refers to the group’s name.” Marling will play the agent, with Skarsgård in talks to take on the role of the group’s leader. The East will chronicle the type of fringe group not normally seen on cinema screens. It brings to mind the documentary If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, which opened this year. That film focused on true stories of some of the ELF’s members, a number of which are certainly interesting enough to go the big feature route.

The East should play as an interesting counterpoint to Marling and Batmanglij’s Sound of My Voice, which revolved around a couple who infiltrated a cult to prove that their leader (played by Marling), who claimed she was from the future, was lying. As these things go, the couple instead got sucked into the cult. It seems plausible that a similar plotline would play out in The East, with Marling’s character getting swayed to the side she’s set to destroy. This is, of course, total speculation, but it would fit nicely into the work Marling and Batmanglij started with Sound.

Marling was (arguably) Sundance’s biggest It Girl at this year’s festival, serving as star, writer, and producer of two of the fest’s most lauded titles – Sound of My Voice and Another Earth. Whereas Another Earth saw her teaming up for screenwriter duties with director Mike Cahill, she wrote Sound of My Voice with Batmanglij, who directed the film. I managed to only catch Another Earth, which I didn’t like very much (despite admiring Marling’s on-screen presence), and it’s been a persistent thorn in my side that I missed Sound of My Voice, a film that received a number of rave reviews and the one that I suspect is much more up my alley.

Skarsgård will next be seen in Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs remake, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (as Kirsten Dunst’s new husband), and Peter Berg’s Battleship. He can also be seen (every week!) on HBO’s True Blood.

The East is looking to film in Nashville in October and November. [THR, /Film]


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