Another Earth – Review

Another Earth, Brit Marling, 2011

Another Earth – Rhoda (Marling) is a high-school senior with a bright future ahead of her at MIT. She was driving home from a night of celebrating when she had just heard on the radio that scientists discovered a planet just like Earth,–an “Earth 2”–and visible in the night sky. Distracted, Rhoda anxiously looks up at the barely visible blue light and crashes into another car–when all the wreckage was cleared, all but one of the car’s passengers died. She is sentenced to 4-years in prison for vehicular homicide.

Rhoda completed her four-year sentence and went to work as a janitor at a local high-school. She no longer dreamed of going to college–she rather clean the filthy bathroom stalls, as if she were washing away the rest of her life. In the meantime, scientists discovered that Earth 2 was an exact duplicate of our own planet–it carries exact carbon copies of everyone on Earth. This parallel world poses fascinating possibilities for the scientists, and quite possibly for Rhoda. A wealthy businessman is hosting an essay contest for a trip to second Earth. Believing that this was a chance to change her life, Rhoda enters the contest. Maybe her “other self” instead, made better choices.

Rhoda tracks down the surviving crash victim John Burroughs (Mapother), a former professor of music,  to make amends for killing his pregnant wife and child. When he does not recognize who she is, instead of apologizing, she tells him that she is from a cleaning service. He agrees. Eventually, they both begin to bond over intelligent conversations and predictably, they enter an intimate relationship. Perhaps out of her own guilt for killing his family–and perhaps for him, out of loneliness. Nevertheless, their happiness is only temporary.

Unfortunately, no matter how well the acting performances are, no matter how compelling the concept of another Earth is, and no matter how cinematically engaging the film appeared, Another Earth just was not successful in pulling in all these various elements together. The main story we hoped to see that featured the other Earth–served only as a subliminal feature in the film. If you were interested in the film as an indie sci-fi–forget about it. Your interest is replaced by the hollow relationship between Rhoda and John. Very little effort was spent on the “involvement” of the other earth, except for when a NASA scientist spoke to her “other self” on live television and the main character Rhoda looking up at the sky every now and again.

The implied premise led those interested in the film to believe that there was something more going on–specifically, more going on with the “other” Earth–especially if you seen the trailer for Another Earth beforehand (below). There is simply too much going on in the film to focus on: underage drinking,  grief, redemption, and romance–plenty of philosophical fodder to ponder, but one thing is certain, this was no sci-fi film.

Pity. The film’s characters were truly captivating–Mapother’s portrayal as the grief-stricken widow is done so extraordinarily well, and Marling didn’t come off too bad herself. As an indie, it’s otherworldly premise of “another world” may have spurned a renewed fascination in the possibility that there may exist a parallel universe or planet where “we” exist in another life opposite of the one we currently occupy.  The film is a barrage of metaphoric’s: Rhoda wanting to redeem or clean up her life, instead, she is cleaning high-school bathrooms; cleaning a grieving person’s house. Slow paced. Inconsistent, although the film has its tender moments. In the end, Another Earth came off as just “another” uniquely disappointing film.

Another Earth is well presented on Blu-ray, and considering it’s low-budget does extremely well in its 1080p/24 resolution (AVC/MPEG-4) video code; and its aspect ratio 1.85:1. I enjoyed seeing the fine particulates floating in air haloed by the soft light of the sun. The clarity of the film is okay. There is no desaturation in color. The sky is flawlessly blue, clouds fluffy and white. There is little gradient abnormalities when a few of the scenes are panned out over land and water. The lines are not perfect– yet hardly noticeable. It is a beautiful film to watch. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio. The soundtrack isn’t spectacular, but engaging nonetheless.  The musical score by Fall on Your Sword is featured during the film.

Another Earth Blu-ray features

  • Deleted scenes: “confrontation” is a scene where Rhoda’s parents suspect she may be doing drugs and questioning why she does not go to college. “College” is where her father takes her to visit a college campus. “Floating blossom” is an attempt at trying to depict gravity displacements due to the second earth being so near to the planet. Marling is handling the shifting, floating white blossoms of a tree. “Four Rhodas” is a viewing of the juxtaposed ending of the film shot during the winter and summer months. “Jail time” is self-explanatory.
  • Music Video: The First Time I Saw Jupiter by Fall On Your Sword
  •  The Science Behind Another Earth
  • Two Fox Movie Channel presents “Direct Effect with Mike Cahill,” “In Character with Brit Marling,” and “In Character with William Mapother.” All discuss their character roles in the film with director Mike Cahill discussing the more technical aspects of filming Another Earth.
Another Earth
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 2 stars
  • Poor

  • Another Earth
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  • Last modified: 2014-11-12

Review Summary:

"Another Earth" is an indie dystopian film directed by Mike Cahill, and jointly written by Cahill and Brit Marling. The film stars William Mapother (In the Bedroom, Lost TV Series), Matthew-Lee Erlbach (Important Things with Demetri Martin), and newcomer Brit Marling in an intimate drama that plays out against the discovery of another "earth" that has entered the solar system.

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