Another Earth (2011)

July 15, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Examining the agony of guilt and depression from an unforgivable act, director Mike Cahill ponders over what it would be like to have a second chance in the form of another you. A refreshing, Twilight Zone inspired film called Another Earth contemplates a place that’s exactly like Earth, where a true second chance may be possible. The leading talent, Brit Marling, is fascinating and newcomer Cahill weaves an intelligent, challenging story.

Another World is director Cahill’s first non-documentary feature film, and he has made an impact in the world of cinema with his first go at fiction. He wisely uses the Sci-Fi element of a sort of doppelganger earth as a backdrop, rather than the focus, in order to show how much people want to escape their mistakes. Shot with handheld cameras, and using a slightly color-drained palette, the film feels intimate and real. There are also appropriate moments of slight avante-garde shots, like the beautiful splicing in of a tragic moment within a heartfelt one, that make for a powerful stirring of emotions. When Cahill’s vision is translated well into celluloid, it’s amazing; the slow motion shots of Rhoda walking with the backdrop of Earth 2 are simply breathtaking.

Rhoda is an ex-felon who did something completely by accident that led her to be locked up for 4 years. Upon her release, she’s a complete outcast, slowly dying from the guilt of her crime with a yearning to escape into outer-space. Rising actress Brit Marling gives a subtly strong performance, as we can see some of the control she has through the power of silence and body language, and she has a lot of potential to develop into a great talent. It is easy to feel for her yearning to runaway to another world where she may reset her life. William Mapother plays John Burroughs, a former music-composer who has just lost his wife and kids. Mapother, as John, is hopelessly alone in the world until he meets Rhoda. Together they spark a light in the pitch black darkness of that is their lives.

Two earths: been there, done that. However, it’s not about that. It’s more about how much we want to run away from what makes us feel guilty, what makes us die a slow death rather than live a long life. Rhoda had it right with her story of the Russian astronaut. Some way, we have to learn to fall in love with what’s driving us insane, so that we can once again realize the recurring lesson that life can on.

Potential Drawbacks:

This film isn’t quite a home-run. Mike Cahill has moments in his visual direction where you may ask yourself “why?” There are manual zoom-ins that feel jerky, and weepy instrumentals that butt into the golden silence, making the drama feel a bit forced at times.

There are also moments in the relationship between John and Rhoda that feel off. They have chemistry, but there are parts where it may feel weak, a little too awkward or forced.In addition, many may be disappointed that this is a film about an odd relationship, and dealing with guilt and tragedy  more than it is a film about the second Earth.

Film Recommendations:

District 9
21 Grams

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