Directed by: Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach
Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Due Out: November 29, 2011
PLOT:A young woman (Marling) with a tragic past attempts to make peace with herself and the man (Mapother) she wronged several years later.
WHO’S IT FOR? Fans of quiet, understated dramas may find themselves engaged by the emotionally wrought storytelling, but for those looking for a quick sci-fi fix should look elsewhere.
What do you call a movie that is part drama, part romance, with a hint of sci-fi? No, seriously. This isn’t the beginning of a bad joke, this is a legitimate question. That’s the first problem with Another Earth. It’s a movie for which there are no words. While ordinarily this would be the mark of a cinematic genius, it frequently works against Another Earth.
The problem with the film is that it attempts to do too much. It isn’t content being a redemptive drama, nor is it happy to be an intelligent science-fiction film. In fact, I hesitate to call it a science-fiction film at all. The premise of there being another Earth is certainly a sign of a science-fiction film, but when the film reveals this to be nothing more than a clunky plot device to force its audience to consider a tired metaphor, I reserve the right to strip it of its honorary title of “sci-fi.” Unfortunately, Another Earth operates under the guise of a science-fiction film with the heart-wrenching plot of a drama. It tries to be all of these without doing any favors to the genres from which it takes its ideas. What is left is a buffet of cliche elements and trite unveilings without any real substance.
It pains me to say this considering the talent of the film. Marling is absolutely captivating as the tortured young woman. At first, it felt as though the acting was somewhat hollow and flat, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Marling was aiming for that and she certainly tackles it with an unparalleled ferocity. Even Mapother, in a much less present but equally weighted role, does wonders in portraying a man rebuilding his life after a devastating loss.
Unfortunately, the main conflict of the story is never given the attention that it deserves. Another Earth attempts to tackle the issue of an underage drunk driver killing an entire man’s family in a car accident, only to re-enter his life four years later. A solid half of the film is concerned with that particular conflict. Unfortunately, the first half is shaky camera shots of Marling looking dazed and confused as she cleans a high school.
In the end, it is a combination of trying to do too much and not giving enough attention to the main conflict. If given more than an hour and a half to tackle such heavy subject matter, Another Earth might have stood a chance. Unfortunately, unless you are particularly taken with Brit Marling or cautionary morality tales with little to no moralizing, Another Earth has little to offer. Sure, it’s well-acted and beautiful to watch, but Another Earth seems to be a clear cut case of style over substance.
MOVIE SCORE: 6/10
Music Video: “The First Time I Saw Jupiter” by Fall On Your Sword
The Science Behind Another Earth
Creating Another Earth
Fox Movie Channel presents Direct effect with Mike Cahill, In Character with Brit Marling, and In Character with William Mapother