Review – Origin

Posted in Film Reviews, Film Reviews 2024 by - January 16, 2024
Review – Origin

Origin (2023)
PG-13  ‧ Biographical Drama  ‧ 2 Hours 21 Minutes

Written by  Ava DuVernay

Directed by  Ava DuVernay


Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, as Isabel Wilkerson along with Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Emily Yancy, Finn Wittrock, Victoria Pedretti, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Isha Blaaker, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Connie Nielsen, Blair Underwood, Nick Offerman, Stephanie March, Myles Frost, Suraj Yengde, Donna Mills, Jordan Lloyd, Franz Hartwig, Daniel Lommatzsch, and Gaurav J. Pathania.


(In their own words). Grappling with tremendous personal tragedy, writer Isabel Wilkerson sets herself on a path of global investigation and discovery as she writes Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.


The BEST things about the film

  1. Powerful Message and Impact: I found “Origin” to be an incredibly powerful film that could change how we see and treat race in the United States. The film goes beyond just depicting race issues; it delves into the concept of a caste system in America, drawing parallels with the caste system in India and the Holocaust. This perspective is eye-opening and thought-provoking.
  2. Outstanding Acting and Directing: The acting was phenomenal, especially by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Isabel Wilkerson. I was impressed by the nuanced and powerful performances, not just from the lead actress but also from the strong supporting cast. Ava DuVernay’s direction and writing were top-notch, translating the book and Isabel Wilkerson’s life story into a compelling narrative.
  3. Educational and Engaging Storytelling: The film isn’t just a direct adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” but it explores her life and research process, making the story more engaging and personal. This approach helps in understanding the book’s complex themes and makes the film more relatable.
  4. Thought-Provoking and Emotionally Stirring: I appreciate films that make me think and feel simultaneously, and “Origin” accomplished this brilliantly. It presents complex ideas in a way that is both intellectual and emotionally resonant, a rare combination.
  5. Cultural and Social Relevance: The film’s exploration of the American caste system and its implications on racism is insightful and incredibly relevant to current societal issues. It encourages viewers to reconsider their understanding of race and caste and how these concepts shape our society.
  6. Encourages Further Exploration: The film was so compelling that it made me want to read the book it’s based on. It’s rare for a movie to inspire such a desire for further exploration and learning.


The WORST things about the film

  1. Last 30 Minutes Felt Preachy: One aspect of the film that I found less appealing was how the last 30 minutes came across as somewhat preachy. This shift in tone made the narrative feel more like a documentary and less like a cohesive story, detracting from the film’s overall impact.
  2. Loss of Narrative Focus: During the latter part of the film, there was a noticeable shift away from the personal story of Isabel Wilkerson’s grief and towards a more general exploration of the caste system. This change in focus resulted in a loss of the narrative line related to her personal journey, which was a compelling element of the film.
  3. Potentially Limited Rewatchability: Although I found “Origin” to be a powerful and influential film, its heavy themes and focus on traumatic events might limit its re-watchability. Films that delve deeply into trauma can be challenging to watch repeatedly, which could affect the film’s long-term appeal to some audiences.
  4. Potential Underperformance in Theaters: I am concerned that “Origin” might not have a long run in theaters, as films of this nature often don’t attract the same level of audience interest as more mainstream movies. This limited exposure could affect the film’s reach and impact.


  1. Understanding the American Caste System: The film highlights the importance of recognizing and comprehending the American caste system and how it influences societal issues, particularly race-related issues.
  2. Historical Context of Racism and Oppression: “Origin” draws connections between global caste systems, such as those in the U.S., India, and Nazi Germany, illustrating the historical roots and global impact of racism and oppression.


Yes. Maybe every few years, though. 


 “Origin” is a profoundly impactful and thought-provoking film. Based on Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” the movie delves into the complexities of the American caste system, drawing compelling parallels with global systems of oppression. The narrative not only adapts Wilkerson’s work but also explores her personal journey and the challenges she faced while researching and writing her book. The performances, particularly by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Wilkerson, are exceptional, bringing depth and nuance to the film. Ava DuVernay’s direction is masterful, seamlessly blending personal storytelling with broader social commentary. While the film’s latter part feels somewhat preachy and deviates from the narrative focus on Wilkerson’s personal loss, its educational value and emotional resonance are undeniable. “Origin” is a significant film that challenges viewers to reconsider their understanding of race and caste, making it a must-watch for its cultural and social relevance.

My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It. 

Origin gets a Love It 





This post was written by
When he’s not reviewing films or interviewing people for the Black & A Half podcast, Silas Lindenstein can be found in the greater metro Seattle, WA working as a real estate agent helping people buy and sell homes, or performing stand up comedy to fellow nerds. He has a wife and three children and desperately wants to learn to make the perfect homemade pizza.

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