Sometimes a film comes out of nowhere to affect you and everyone who watches it. Mike Cahill’s (Boxers and Ballerinas) Another Earth is a little film that does. It came out of nowhere to blow everyone over at Sundance last year. It is a low budget film that does a great job looking at guilt, redemption and second chances.
At seventeen, Rhoda (Brit Marling – Sound of My Voice) gets her acceptance to MIT. She feels like anything is possible. After a night out celebrating her acceptance to MIT, she wakes up inside her car. Rhoda had an accident when she was looking out the window to catch a glimpse of the newly discovered planet. She hit another car with a family of three in it. Two are dead and the father is in a coma. Rhoda is put in jail.
Four years later she gets out. Her family comes to pick her up. To avoid human contact, she takes a maintenance job at Westhaven High School. Floating through life, Rhoda hears the talk about the new planet which is believed to be an exact replica of Earth; it’s even called Earth 2. She writes an essay to enter a contest to win a trip to Earth 2.
The father, John Burroughs (William Mapother – Mission: Impossible II, In the Bedroom), is out of his coma. Rhoda goes to John’s house and pretends she is an employee from a cleaning service offering him a free trial cleaning. After the accident John has completely withdrawn from life and just sits around in his decaying house drinking. Surprisingly, he asks her to come back next week.
A scientist from California tries to make contact with those who live on Earth 2. She does – ends up talking to herself – another Dr. Joan Tallis (Diane Ciesla – from television’s All My Children).
After cleaning his house for several weeks, Rhoda begins to bond with John. A former music professor at Yale, John is writing music again. They have sex. John tells her about the accident. Rhoda feels guilty.
Her brother Jeff (Robin Taylor – Step Up 3D, Accepted) tells Rhoda the people from the contest called her. They offer her a seat on the shuttle to Earth 2. Rhoda tells John she won the contest and is going to space. They celebrate. Over dinner John asks Rhoda not to go. She tells him the story of a girl and the accident. Rhoda tells him it is her fault that his wife and son are dead. John asks her to leave.
The press starts hounding Rhoda. She tells her parents that she is going to go. Rhoda learns that if she goes to this mirror reality and does something different she can change reality. Thinks about that and then goes to see John.
Lead actress Brit Marling also co-wrote the screenplay for Another Earth. She gives an incredible performance. It is an intense and moving film largely because of her. Her Rhoda is a complex young woman and is very damaged. Marling does this very well.
Ignore all the science or talk of a mirror planet in the film, that is not the focus. The focus should be on the journey and the inner peace we all try to arrive at. The film wants you to think deeply and analyze yourself. Though there is a love story in it this is not fluff, folks. It will challenge you and your beliefs about guilt and redemption. Does everyone deserve a second chance?
I was hooked all the way through this one. One of the better films of 2011.
-Previews of The Descendents, Fox World Cinema, The Art of Getting By