Another Earth – Review

Not a Sci-Fi film despite what the trailer would have you believe.

Normally what you get from Science fiction films today is the concept being used to show spectacular visual scenes linked together with a wafer-thin plot about robots hitting robots. Another Earth uses Science fiction as the background to tell a story that is all too human.

The tale begins on the night that another planet that looks like Earth appears in our solar system. A teenage girl on her way home from a party hears about the discovery on the car radio, looks up, and at that moment loses control of her car and smashes into a family traveling in the opposite direction. The wife and child are killed and the husband, John, is left in a coma. After spending time in prison for her part in the tragedy the girl, Rhoda, who has forsaken her chance to go to college in favour of being a janitor tries to make an apology to the now physically (but not emotionally) healed John. She loses her nerve when she sees the state that John’s house and by extension John himself is in and instead pretends to be offering a cleaning service. Through the acceptance of this offer, Rhoda starts to clean his house and the two slowly develop a relationship. To go further would spoil the rest of the film.

The film examines the process of healing that both sides of a tragic incident have to go through. Alone they are barely coping, but with support, even unknowing, both characters start to develop and grow into functioning human beings again. This theme is visually developed by shots of the other earth that is pictured in subsequent scenes growing slightly larger each time.

The main parts are beautifully played by William Mapother as John (Ethan from Lost) and Brit Marling as Rhoda. I had not seen Brit before but with the performance, she produced it won’t be long before a lot of people know of her. Brit and Director Mike Cahill wrote the screenplay together which raises the level of appreciation for her contribution. Both performances are restrained where a look or a gesture conveys more than five minutes of dialogue could hope to do. This is very much a two-hander with the supporting cast given little screen time to shine. The one exception to this is Kumar Pallana playing a blind janitor who works with Rhoda. In his few scenes he provides essential guidance to Rhoda’s character, helping her to move on and follow her path. Scene stealing at its best.

The look of the film is very bleak and minimal echoing the mindset of the two characters. It is interesting that bright warm sunshine is used on very few occasions. The soundtrack is similarly sparse from a group called Fall On Your Sword. There is also a musical piece of note during the film, composed by Scott Munson which is played on the saw by Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz which is haunting and quite beautiful.

Overall a very good film. Forget the science behind the premise as it could pull you out of enjoying the film. It raised questions and ideas that had me thinking for days after.

John McArthur
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