Fresh off the independent film festival circuit is Mike Cahill‘s first feature film entitled Another Earth. Reciting the synopsis of the film, a discovery of another planet that is incredibly similar to ours that it is labeled Earth 2, may sound like your standard science fiction film. But I am here to tell you that Another Earth contains more than just the standard fare.
Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is 17 and just got an acceptance letter from MIT. After a night of celebrating the good news, she makes the decision to drive home under the influence. Instead of paying attention to the road, she is gazing at the newly discovered Earth 2 when she slams head-on to a car instantly killing the people inside.
Because she was a minor, she spends the next four years in prison before being released. As you would probably expect, this tragedy has left here emotionally scarred. This is most evident when she is looking for work when she tells the job placement representative that she does not want to be around people or do much talking. She is depressed and it is not hard to understand why.
Another Earth does a good job of constantly filling you in, a little bit at a time, about Earth 2 through different media channels. The news on TV when Rhoda is signing her release papers from prison. The radio from time to time keeps us up to date such as when it is the anniversary of the discovery. The voice on the radio asks its listeners if they remember where they were at when it was first discovered, Rhoda cannot forget even if she tried. In the film, Earth 2 represents hope that in a parallel world the same mistakes you make could be erased, forgiven, or possibly not even ever happened in the first place.
After walking around near where the accident took place, she notices a man in a truck pull up and place a children’s toy near the intersection. It is then that she realizes the possibly that someone could have actually survived the accident. After performing a Google search she discovers that while two people died in the car accident, the driver eventually awoke from a coma. Naturally, she becomes more curious about what impact she had on this man’s life and tries to figure out if there is a way she could show her respects.
Cahill shows a wide range of skills as he not only directed the film but he was also the editor, producer, cinematographer and co-wrote the film. The film lays all of its cards on the table at the very beginning, however, Cahill keeps the audience engaged with trying to figure out what the end result will be. Brit Marling also took on more than just one responsibility; she played the lead role as well as co-wrote the screenplay. Marling was excellent in her role which mostly consisted of being depressed, but at times showed her character showed ambition and happiness. Marling has great potential for a promising acting career if she continues with performances like this.
Another Earth achieved more than the indie budget typically allows. Even though there may not have been very many special effects, it was impressive what Cahill was able to pull off. The cinematography was artfully done and the poetic storyline was thought-provoking. The final scene is both haunting and mesmerizing at the same time; goosebumps will likely to appear.