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Another Earth

SXSW Film Review

Another Earth

Director: Mike Cahill, Writers: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident (from imdb.com). (Secret SXSW Screening)

WHO'S IT FOR: If your whistle is whet by the mentioning of the movies Moon or even Primer, chances are you'll at least have a positive reaction to this movie. If you thought either of those movies were boring or just really weird, then stay away from Another Earth.


Fox Searchlight’s recent Sundance pick-up, Another Earth, is a movie of two genre worlds. One part is a quiet sci-fi movi about “Earth Two,” a curious star in the sky that eventually starts to resemble our own planet. The other side of Another Earth is equally vague and tenderly told: it’s the story of a girl hoping to make peace with herself and the father whose family was ruined by her vehicular manslaughter (she was captivated by Earth Two when driving).

Echoing an astro-physiological concept briefly discussed in a particular Oscar-nominated movie from last year, Another Earth is also bound to be 2011's Moon. Like Source Code director Duncan Jones’ debut, Another Moon takes indie film audiences to a certain unknown, with its patience and tranquility often feeling like its being told in a dimension not of our own.

Possible new indie “It”-girl Brit Marling gives a buoyant performance as the woman at the center of Another Earth who floats around the movie, with the drama of the story square on her shoulders. Her co-star William Mapother is a bit bumpier with his portrayal of sorrow. Their chemistry is fine, but neither lead the audience onto a true emotional journey.

While the final product is certainly fine, Another Earth would be even better as a twenty or even thirty minute short film. Taking cues from other cheap independent movies that feature characters being shown doing anything and everything, Another Earth extends its story to feature length, but at the cost of smooth pacing. Even though the speed of the movie does feel weightless, it can feel like an overload. Very subtle moments of quiet sci-fi (like the growing size of Earth Two in the sky as the characters go about their business) can only work with our brains so much. There are only a handful of moments where things get truly “weird,” and such scenes are thankfully successful. Still, with the events of this movie, there’s nothing that says Another Earth couldn’t be shorter.


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