Movie Review of 2011′s Indie Another Earth
When the discovery of a mirror Earth is found in the sky, MIT-bound student Rhoda (Brit Marling) is driving her car, only to look up into the sky for the discovered star. Her distraction from the road causes a fatal accident when her vehicle slams into another, which is carrying a family of (soon to be) four. Rhoda lands in prison for a 4-year stint and her life changes drastically. Another Earth is an ambitious film that takes chances in telling its tale of a possible mirror existence and the outcome of actions.
Upon release from jail, Rhoda is withdrawn and distant, preferring a flat air mattress on a hard floor in the attic to her old cushy bed and bedroom. She takes a janitorial job far beneath her intelligence level, simply to remain as isolated as possible. Ultimately, she becomes curious to meet the man (William Mapother) who survived the coma from her fatal crash and lost his wife, child and child to be in the accident. Their relationship begins slowly but goes to different areas of growth and consequences.
Another Earth Has A Big Story and Performance but Small Budget
First time director Mike Cahill, working with a limited budget (the film is notably grainy and was supposedly shot in 720p) keeps things moody. The film asks several questions about the mirror Earth and would we would do if we could meet ourselves. What type of questions would we ask? What would we say to ourselves? What about alternate universes? Another Earth blends sci-fi, drama, a redemption story, exploration and a love story into a jumbled mix. Cahill knows this all too well, which is why the film ultimately fails. Cahill knows that the film can’t be properly marketed and audiences “won’t get what they are expecting.”
The movie is held together by a strong performance from Marling, who seems central to nearly every scene and was also a co-writer of the project. Mapother, better known as the cousin of Tom Cruise, gives his character weight and the appropriate mood shifts, but he seems to be punching a bit over his pay scale here sadly. Maybe it’s the material, maybe it’s him and while it’s a tough acting role, it’s still a bit hard to tell.
Unfortunately, what Another Earth offers is a multitude of questions asked with little answers. Along the way, the story remains slow and mildly engaging, but not enough substance keeps the audience moving forward with the characters. Discoveries lead to more questions not answers and even though that is really the point, a book might do the material better justice than this film. The budget constraints probably don’t help matters, but the film has to be judged on its own merits and sadly, it doesn’t quite live up to anything transcendent. Despite having no expectations, it’s hard not to feel let down in the end.