Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Another Earth is a classic example of what makes an independent feature film so radically different from most mainstream Hollywood movies. Its style, technique, mood, camera shots, composition, and music set it apart from the ordinary and routine films that we all have become accustomed to. Another Earth is a rare combination of science fiction and drama. Today it is difficult to find smart science fiction. Where are the movies like Contact, 2001, Close Encounters of a Third Kind, Solaris, and Moon? What you find on the SyFy channel today is nothing more than mindless violence and big action. Just think of the monster of the week, and you get the idea.
Another Earth starts with the discovery of an imposing, strikingly similar second earth in the night sky. Rhonda Williams (Brit Marling) goes to a party and celebrates her acceptance into MIT and leaves the party intoxicated. While driving she hears about this second earth on the radio and is looking at it in the sky when she crashes head on into John Burroughs’ (William Mapother) car that was sitting at a red light. To Rhonda’s horror she discovers that she has killed John’s pregnant wife and child. In an instant Rhonda’s life is destroyed, and she is sentenced to prison.
Rhonda is released after four years of incarceration. She starts to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Feeling unworthy and wanting to try to fix things both physically and metaphorically, she takes a job as a janitor at a local high school. Rhonda decides to look up John, who was an accomplished musician and professor. John has become the embodiment of a total meltdown. He’s drinking away his very existence.
Four years after the second earth was discovered in the sky, scientists suggest that at the point of discovery that life and events on Earth 2 no longer mirror our reality but are now independent. This means that reality and choices on both worlds are no longer the same. There is now the possibility of different outcomes.
Although Another Earth is essentially about a parallel universe, it uses ordinary events to explore and examine extraordinary forces. It’s an ingenious and highly creative concept. What if there actually was a parallel universe? Would I make the same mistakes? Can Rhonda change the past and have a second chance?
Director/writer Mike Cahill is a rising star. He’s proven he has what it takes to be a successful director/writer. You also want to keep an eye on Brit Marling. Considering this was her first film, her performance was nothing short of brilliant. If you are looking for a film that offers an intellectual mental workout then you don’t need to search in a parallel universe. You have it at your fingertips in this one.