‘Another Earth’, isn’t what it seems. It’s not a sci-fi adventure, it’s a drama of a tale of two people who become intertwined with each others lives in grave circumstances. Whilst there’s another earth in the sky, weird right?
Well it is. The whole film comes in at only 1hr 28 minutes, but feels twice the length. It’s slow, doesn’t realise its potential whatsoever and has one of the most infuriating endings for a film I’ve seen in a while, ending just where I would’ve liked it to have reached in the middle part of the film. This being said, it’s not completely awful, just slightly misleading and probably disappointing more than anything else.
It follows the story of Rhoda (Brit Marling, who co-wrote the film), as a, in her words, ‘naive, young girl’, who makes a grave mistake, on the same night as the discovery of a planet capable of harbouring life on it. Another Earth. Rhoda crashes into Professor John Burroughs car (co-star William Mapother), killing his young son and wife, and being sent to prison for 4 years. Instantly we’re transported to ‘Four Years Later’, and the release of Rhoda into society, with which she wants nothing to do with. She takes a cleaning job, discovers Burroughs and sets out the apologise to him. Things don’t go aswell as she wants and she ends up cleaning Burroughs house, becoming closer and closer to him. At the same time, the audience is fed little pieces of information about this new world, pieces that satisfy, but don’t ultimately deliver as I personally, wanted to see more of this new Earth (Earth 2, as described in the film), and instead it was more of a relationship between these two human beings.
The performances of the two main leads are very good. Marling portrays her naive Rhoda brilliantly, as she struggles to come to terms with her actions at the start, but as the end comes, she progresses mentally, returning to her previous, pre-crash state. She seems on edge constantly, and wants to live the life of a recluse, she says she wants to improve Professor Burroughs life, for him, not tragically, for herself. Burroughs is a tormented figure, who goes from successful composer, to a devastated husband unable to get over the grief caused by Rhoda. It’s a really odd pairing, and it seems really strange that the two even become close, as Rhoda is posing only as Burroughs cleaner, but the two performances help portray both as broken, damaged characters.
Rhoda enters a competition to a trip to Earth 2, and wins, allowing herself to attempt to live a new life, away from her dodgy past back on the original Earth. The film brings up a number of interesting question: what would you say to yourself, being one of them, but doesn’t go anywhere near developing them. It frustrated me that this wonderful concept wasn’t explored enough, and left as an exceptional backdrop, rather than the main star of the film. Another fault is the very slow pacing. If the amount of beautiful shots, actually meant something, and was part of a slicker film, then I could’ve appreciated them a lot more. As it was, the film felt stodgy and really long. Perhaps this was because I was waiting to actually see Earth 2, and discover more of the people on it, the duplicates of ourselves.
The ending. Without trying to spoil anything about it, it’s not the best. It’s a tease, as it is what you want to see, but leaves you hanging as it cuts to black, just as something may come of the meeting of the two people. Also, I didn’t understand how any of it was possible, but after reading a few theories online, I’ve realised that there are so many ways to see it, that the film-makers deliberately left it wide open for the viewer to make their own mind up. I will watch it again, in fact, I’m curious to see more of the little things in it, like the alien-masked man as Rhoda is released from jail, and see how it all fits together, indeed if it fits together. The potential was certainly there for an excellent classic, but I can see that this is a good achievement when you bare the minuscule budget in mind, it’s just a shame as I had high expectations.
‘Another Earth’, is reluctantly, a good film, but you won’t know it till you leave the cinema!