Film Festival Today

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Film Review: “Another Earth”

Written by: FFT Webmaster | July 22nd, 2011

***1/2 OUT OF 4

Director Mike Cahill’s Sundance 11 dramatic competition film is an accomplished low- budget sci-fi film with an intriguing premise of the discovery of a new planet in our very own solar system. This new planet, identical to Earth, seems to be getting closer and closer with complications that are beyond those of regular daily life. Ignoring the laws of gravity, this micro-budgeted, small- scale film (picked up by Fox Searchlight) has many intriguing and mesmerizing facets that make it a winner in a summer full of comic book and raunchy comedy movies.

The concept of a an alternate universe has been played-out numerous times in other movies but here the story focuses on Earth 1 and  a serious, heart-felt human drama.     The same night of  the discovery of Earth 2, hard-partying MIT student Rhoda (Brit Marling) gets behind the wheel of an SUV and crashes head-on into another vehicle driven by a composer named John Burroughs(William Mapother of “In the Bedroom”) .  John loses his wife and children in the crash and this sets up a whole series of events with consequences that make a compelling and engaging narrative. Rhoda serves four years in prison for the DUI tragedy and when released finds herself drawn to John by posing as a house cleaner. Meanwhile Rhoda writes the winning essay in a contest to be on the first crew to travel to this other earth.   She hopes this other worldly experience will help her reconcile her troubled past. What makes this all work, and not become formulaic, is the spell-binding urgency of the acting with Ms. Marling emerging as an actress of significance.(the Georgetown alum co-wrote the script with Cahill)

This fictional film,  that depends on scientific reasoning,  won the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award at Sundance 11. It does what makes sci-fi work best by opening up the human heart and using the metaphor of the “other earth” as a stand-in for an “afterlife” of sorts.

This is a smart movie which will keep you thinking long after the lights come up.


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