Another Earth is unworldly, economical, sad, hopeful, fulfilling. Maybe.
Seventeen-year-old Rhonda Williams (Bret Marling) is a bright kid with a promising future. She’s part of a nice, middle-class family. She also is sometimes wild and irresponsible. When she drives off in the family car one night, she’s drunk. She crashes head on into a car driven by the composer and teacher, John Burroughs (William Mapother). The crash kills Burroughs’ pregnant wife, their young son and sends Burroughs into a weeklong coma. Rhonda spends four years in jail. The story starts when she’s released.
Another weeper? Not at all. At the time of the accident another earth appeared in the sky. It turned out to be a duplicate of Earth, with all our history and all of us doing the same exact things the people there do. We are each others duplicates. We call it Earth II.
Rhonda now is 21. Once a bright young woman, she’s a person eaten by guilt and hopelessness. She lives at home in an attic space with a mattress on the floor. Her family tries to console her, tries to be positive. She finds work as a school janitor. One day she uses her computer to locate where John Burroughs lives. She goes there to apologize. When Burroughs answerers the door, disheveled and bleary, all she can think to say is that she’s from a home cleaning service. Burroughs, dressed in rumpled, lived-in clothes with an old knit cap on his head, reluctantly agrees to a free trial, starting now. His home is a mess, littered with empty liquor bottles, unwashed dishes and dirty clothes. There’s clutter everywhere. He’s never recovered from the accident and the loss of his family. Rhonda tentatively begins to pick up some of the bottles. She’s unable to tell him the truth, but needs to do something to try to make his life happier.
Oh, no. Not another small, independent film where the young writers and director discover deep feelings that those even a little older than they are have already discovered.
Instead, through the device, or, let’s face it, the metaphor of Earth II, the director Mike Cahill, and the writers, Cahill and Marling, have managed to construct a story that edges into unexpected directions. It’s not long before the viewers learn that something at the time of crash disconnected the syncrosity that had tied Earth and Earth II together. We can see Rhonda, coming to Burroughs house each week as a housekeeper and still unable to tell him the truth, is emotionally tied to him. And Burroughs is falling love with her. They’ve begun talking to each other. His home is inviting and comfortable. They eat together. He begins composing again. And how can this possibly have a happy ending when he eventually will discover she was the cause of his family’s death?
On Earth II, that Rhonda also crashed into that William Burroughs' car. But with the synchrocity broken, who was killed and who wasn’t? If it would be possible for a person, such as Rhonda or William, to travel to Earth II, how different would their lives be there than they are here?
Perhaps we find out, if we are willing to conjecture at the same time we suspend belief.
Another Earth is a movie with a satisfying ending if a little ambiguity and a few loose ends don’t bother you. They shouldn’t. This is no science fiction story, no tragedy, and no love story. Just the story of two sad people who find themselves in the middle of a movie metaphor, one that we leave feeling intrigued and contented.
The two actors, Bret Marling and William Mapother, excellently convey the changing struggles of their characters, one to gather the strength to be honest, the other to gather the strength to feel again.
Don’t bother to watch this movie if you’ll be consumed with a need to figure out exactly how the conclusion could work. Remember, it’s a movie…and this movie works just fine.
Watching Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, about an approaching planet led me to this movie made around the same time. As Another Earth begins, we are introduced to a bright, attractive young girl with a brilliant future, with an interest in the Cosmos, and she has just got into MIT. When another earth with the same continents and oceans appears in the sky, people get excited, some are nervous. As she drives along that night, a radio announcer talks excitedly … more
'Another Earth' is the kind of movie that deserves some pondering and a second look. There's a tptation to pigeon hole our expectations into making this a great space adventure, but it's not. It is science fiction, but if my memoty serves me correctly from high school, this is soft (i.e. read social issues based, rather than hard (i.e. read science technology based) science fiction voyage. Some can be both, and this one is also both, but is far more the former than the latter. Cosmic … more
FADE IN: Spoiled brat Brit Marling is driving home shitfaced listening to the exposition on the radio when she sees Another Earth in the sky. CUT TO another car containing a perfect family. WILLIAM MAPOTHER Holy shit, this family's so nuclear I'm amazed Iran hasn't tried to weaponize it. Brit Marling like totally runs a light or something and wipes out the nuclear family's car - KA-POW! - even though … more
***1/2 out of **** I know, I know; "Another Earth" is not, in the slightest, an easy film to like. It is depressing, slow, and somber; enhanced by the moody cinematography of its maker. But the writer and director, Mike Cahill, has made a film that isn't easy to like also very easy to admire; and I consider that to be some kind of achievement. It may not be great one; but regardless, Cahill has made a film that quenched my thirst for intrigue. It's daring, it's brilliant, … more
Star Rating: Perhaps it’s both the greatest strength and the biggest weakness of Another Earth that it’s open to interpretation. On the one hand, you’re not bound by the constraining intentions of the filmmakers; you’re free to put your own spin on the plot, the characters, and the imagery. On the other hand, if you have no narrative guidelines to fall back on, you may paradoxically be constrained by the latitude you’re given. I … more
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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