Coming from writer/director Jim Taihutto, Mustafa Duygulu and Magnet Releasing is a film based on a true story of a war within THE EAST.
Johan (Martijn Lakemeier) is a young Dutch man sent to Indonesia in 1946 as the Netherlands attempt to stop the people from claiming their independence. Almost immediately Johan is curious about everything around him, especially a man known as The Turk (Marwan Kenzari).
The Turk has also noticed Johan and shows the young soldier the way around getting information, working with the higher-ranking officers and government officials and what is expected of him in return.
At first, Johan takes it all in and pays attention to what is said and done. That is also when he begins to see that there are horrible things happening to the native peoples. Trying to understand what is happening and why the man he has come to respect does not seem to comprehend the wrong being done, Johan decides he must stop it all.
He takes on The Turk and his own fellow soldiers with a shocking ending!
Lakemeier as Johan portrays the conscience of a young soldier yet the conscience of many soldiers who might not have been able to step forward. It was the strong against the weak on both sides and Lakemeier gave his character the strength to face the repercussions of standing up for something so heinous. As a young man going through so much, there is no surprise to learn it has followed him home and is in every step he takes.
Kenzari as The Turk is the mysterious man who seems to have control of everything around him. The soldiers, government and officials know who he is and know he can make things happen. Whether right or wrong seems to be of no concern to him and Kenzari gives his character a shivering coldness that makes its way through the screen and creeps me out. Well done!
Other cast include Jonas Smulders as Mattias Cohen, Abel van Gijlswijk as Charlie, Coen Bril as eddy Coolen, Jeroen Perceval as Janssen, Mike Reus as Commandant Mulder, Peter Muller as Major Penders, Huub Smit as Lt. Hartman, Putri Ayudya as Myra, David Wristers as Marcus Waterman, Robert de Hoog as Nachtegaal and Reinout Bussemaker as Johan de Vries.
Magnet Releasing is a part of Magnolia Pictures that specializes in films from the vanguard of horror, action, comedy and Asian cinema. It is also the home of classics like Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ON IN, Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, Andre Ovredal’s TROLLHUNTER, Neil Marshall’s sword and sandals bloodbath CENTURION and Tony Jaa’s ONG BAK trilogy. Recent released include the terrifying anthologies V/H/S and V/H/S/2, Xan Cassavettes’ stylish vampire film KISS OF THE DAMNED, and the sci-fi thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS. Upcoming films include Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT and to find out more of what is to come please visit www.magnetreleasingfilms.com.
THE EAST is a film of war, those who participate in the wrongs of war and one man who must decide to stand up for what he knows is right. The haunting of what Johan saw would make anyone question why? The character that Lakemeier portrays is a young man who must come to terms with it long after the war is over.
It becomes one man against being a soldier, against fellow soldiers and against those who think they are justified in their behavior. Using these young men to do their dirty work is unthinkable and as stories like these emerge either through media or film, soldiers become more and more aware of their conscientious duty to cry foul when they see it.
THE EAST is a difficult film yet one that is important to watch but it allows the conversations to be had. Yes, it does remind me of the 1986 film PLATOON as well as the 1989 film CASUALTIES OF WAR. That being said, those films also brought out the injustices and conversations. Johan’s story is equally as important and Lakemeier’s portrayal is heartbreaking and relevant.
In the end – it’s a war between duty and conscience!