I recently rented ANOTHER EARTH, produced by Fox’s Search Light Pictures. The story premise and the trailer had me hooked last year, because I could see that it wasn’t a typical Sci-fi, but a thoughtful human story.
I knew it was one of several ‘off the radar’ Sci-fi that have been produced in the past few years. Other films like DISTRICT 9 and MOON were low budgeted, but high concept philosophical films that presented personal character studies.
Director Mike Cahill brings a unique situation to the screen; People on earth discover another planet moving closer to ours. The planet looks strikingly similar to our own earth. In fact, it is identical! Young astronomer Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) can’t believe the news she is hearing over her car radio while driving, and while looking up in the night sky for the blue marble, causes a tragic accident with another vehicle. After serving a 4 year prison sentence, the guilt ridden Rhoda moves through her life as if in a fog. But a chance encounter with survivor of the accident John Burroughs (William Mapother) sparks a need for Rhoda to apologize in some way. But things turn out different from what she expected as the film unfolds. All of this happens as the world grapples with a looming second earth over the horizon.
As I said, this film is a personal story. It centers on loss, self-forgiveness and redemption. The idea of another earth, and another of everybody on it, is over shadowed at first by the lives of Rhoda and John. But, as the film progresses, the weight of the situation moves to the forefront again, as scientist contact the planet. Cahill draws you in with Rhoda’s situation by making you question: If there was another you, would you be happy if they were better off than you were? Or maybe jealous of them? Or would you wonder if they made the mistakes you did… and would the sense of lost be greater?
I must say, a lot was accomplished in this film with just two convincing main actors, a radio broadcast, and a super-imposed special effects image of earth in the background. I hope Fox Search Light Pictures and other low-budget production companies continue to bring thought provoking science fiction to the theaters and small screens. It’s my kind of storytelling for sure. Geek Soul Brother gives ANOTHER EARTH 3.5 Cosmic Afros.
top image: billy.soistmann.com