|Review: Another Earth|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Wednesday, 07 December 2011 10:34|
Director: Mike Cahill
Sci-fi movies have frequently made a fuss about the collision between our planet and other worlds. A chance for Bruce Willis to blow a rogue asteroid up, or a sad story about Kirsten Dunst taking her clothes off. But Mike Cahill’s low-budget Another Earth is something else.
As MIT student Rhoda (Marling) prepares for a bright astrological future, Earth 2 appears in the sky – an exact replica of our home.
Distracted by the duplicate rock on the horizon, she drives into another car. The collision kills the family in the other vehicle, except for the father, John (Mapother). What follows is a quiet tale of guilt as she tries to atone for the accident.
After being released from prison, she drops by his neglected house to apologise, but chickens out and ends up pretending to be a cleaner. Soon, the two outsiders start to connect as she sorts his messy life out. She washes the dishes. He cooks food. And the strange new world hangs in the sky.
“Now you start to wonder: has the other me made the same mistakes I made?” lyricizes a philosophical guy on a radio in the background. It sounds heavy-handed, but Cahill doesn't overdo the muted piano and probing voiceover. Layering a global question mark over the close-quarters relationship, the director's surprisingly understated script (co-written with Marling) is deep and provocative. Mapother and the talented newcomer Marling are mesmerising leads, both lost, each equally sincere and dishevelled.
A collision of worlds, then, but without Bruce Willis blowing stuff up. And yet Another Earth is full of small-scale explosions that carry all the impact of hard science fiction – particularly in one moving scene, when Mapother plays the musical saw to Marling in an empty concert hall. Like Solaris, this is a subtle, touching look at grief that raises serious questions about another world without ever leaving Rhoda’s front yard. And that's a flipping impressive achievement. Never feeling the pressure to visit the unknown planet, Cahill's heartfelt focus gives Another Earth an emotional and intellectual substance that really resonates; after all, it could have been Earth 2 all along.
Another Earth premiered at the Raindance Film Festival this year. For our initial reactions, read our Raindance Another Earth review.