Cinema Review – Another Earth
Out this week is a sci-fi film that is being praised all around the globe, But is Another Earth a worthy recipient? Scott investigates
TITLE – ANOTHER EARTH YEAR – 2011 DIRECTOR – MIKE CAHILL CAST – BRIT MARLING, WILLIAM MAPOTHER WRITERS – BRIT MARLING, MIKE CAHILL
At 17, Rhoda Williams receives an acceptance letter from MIT, she is young and believes the world is her oyster. She thinks anything is possible. She has dreams of becoming a Astrophysicist. But, after a party and a little worse for wear she decides to drive home. As she drives the news breaks that a new planet has been discovered and she becomes distracted looking for the planet in the night sky, she accidentally slams her SUV into another car, with deadly results.
Rhoda is imprisoned for four years. Upon her release she is a completely different girl, her dreams are lost, she is a broken shell of her former self.
As Rhoda moves through her life-like a ghost she starts to become increasingly obsessed with two things – the other planet, now a lot closer than before and dubbed Earth 2 that took her eyes off of the road when she was driving – and John Burroughs a composer come recluse whose life was also wrecked that fateful night when his wife and son were killed in the traffic accident.
She decides to confront her demons and apologize to John for killing his family. But when she tries she cannot make herself do it, she is so wrapped up in her guilt, and instead offers him a free trial for a house clean. Unaware of her identity John takes on Rhoda to clean his house permanently and the two become friends. Alongside this there is the storyline of the other planet, which turns out to be a carbon copy of their own planet, and is a constant reminder to Rhoda that up there is another Her whose life may not be in ruins.
Sci-Fi aside this is actually a very good dramatic piece. Marling and Cahill wrote this feature together and the question of how do you make up for something that is totally unforgivable is a very potent one. Rhoda’s answer is to make John’s life better in small ways, through cleaning his house, and ultimately being a friend. The best parts of the film come when these two are together. One scene sticks in my mind as I have never seen it before, when the pair are bonding over a game of Wii Sports, funny and compelling.
The opening scene of the film punched me squarely in the stomach. You see it coming a mile off but still it shocks and leaves your jaw wide open. From then on you are in for a haunting, elegant and often touching ride. What you have to remember with this film is that it was made on a tiny budget ($500,000), and yet it looks stunning. There will be some who cannot cope with the way the camera is used, and the paced is methodical (or slow), but it is very alluring in the way it has been put together.
Another Earth is essentially a character study of two lost souls finding comfort in each other when they really shouldn’t be anywhere near one another. Both Marling and Mapother are excellent, made even more poignant because they are not instantly recognizable and therefore it seems more realistic.
I can see how this film can be quite polarizing. The sci-fi element is never really seen through or addressed, which may annoy some viewers. The search for answers is pretty fruitless. But if you are looking for a philosophical film that will make you question your existence, then stop right here, this one is for you.
[starreview tpl=16 size='30']
ANOTHER EARTH IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN THE UK ON 9TH DECEMBER 2011
Have you seen Another Earth? Are you a fan of Sci-Fi? Comment below…