Another Earth Directed by: Mike Cahill Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: August 5, 2011
PLOT: Scientists discover a duplicate planet in the solar system, and a young student (Marling) has a tragic accident that alters her life and another's (Mapother).
WHO'S IT FOR? Indie sci-fi fans, which means this isn't filled with special effects, it's more about the emotional journey and overcoming tragedy.
EXPECTATIONS: The title is pretty much all I knew. I heard the creepy guy from "Lost" was in it (Mapother).
Brit Marling as Rhoda Williams: It's a great performance that kept reminding me of Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. Another Earth could be Rhoda's key to happiness. Rhoda has an accident right from the beginning of the film and it changes her life. She goes from MIT to being a janitor at a high school. Her world is bleak and finding hope and purpose is nearly impossible. Marling is able to control the film in a very impressive way for a young actress. Score: 8
William Mapother as John Burroughs: Not only can Mapother play creepy, we now know he can play depressed, deeply depressed. Mapother showcases a man going through a tragedy. He's full of rage and sadness. Watching John slowly open up to Rhoda is beautiful and tragic. Score: 7
Kumar Pallana as Purdeep: Hey! Someone else gave Pallana some work besides Wes Anderson! Nice. While I didn't get into the deep sadness they were going for with this character, I'm always happy to see Pallana get some work. Score: 6
TALKING: It's a bit of a tease. I've spent the last few paragraphs talking about depression and hope, not the other planet coming closer to Earth. That's what this movie does. It gives us tidbits of information from TV and radio broadcasts. While it's a great way to keep us intrigued, it also left me wanting more. Score: 6
SIGHTS: Seeing Earth from Earth is insanely cool. In fact, those are the best moments of the film. The old house truly does look rundown and destroyed, just like John's life. The blue tint used on the entire film helps set the depressing mood. Score: 8
SOUNDS: The saw. John plays a freaking saw. I didn't know this was possible, unless you were in the Country Bear Jamboree. The musical score fits in the rest of the movie adding to the tense, somber drama. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: While the car crash is insanely tragic, I got chills when everyone gathered around the TV and Dr. Tallis (Diane Ciesla) spoke to someone on the other Earth.
ENDING: It might leave some scratching their heads. While it's not fully explained, and could (doubtfully) lead to more films, I found the ending satisfying.
QUESTIONS: Why would John want to go to the other planet? Sure, he gets to see his family, but does he think the other John is going to be OK with it? Do the planets eventually merge together?
REWATCHABILITY: Just like Winter's Bone, once is enough, but in a good way.
Another Earth is a film that keeps you thinking. That alone is worth it. It's such an interesting idea, still fairly unexplained. It teases you with the wonder of second chances, while sticking you in a pretty depressing surrounding. In fact, it teases you a lot. That didn't bother me this time around, while in other independent films it definitely has. Even when Rhoda is content to work as a janitor, and give up on life, she's holding out that lingering hope. That's why she applies to a contest that will fly her to the other Earth. You know something will come of it, and again, the waiting is almost teasing.
Sometimes you don't get all of the answers, you just get some good moments, a couple of strong performances and that lingering feeling that you just saw something kind of cool. That's what Another Earth does for you.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10