Another Earth: That Same Ol’ Great Story that We Love

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Another Earth PosterDir: Mike Cahill

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: July 2011

First off, you need to know that Another Earth is NOT a sci-fi film. It is a moving drama about second chances. The film starts quickly, introducing us to Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) as she is about to enter MIT’s astrophysics program and live the perfect life of a beautiful and intelligent woman.  We are also told from the start about Earth 2, another planet identical to our Earth that is passing by in the coming months. As Rhoda drives home, intoxicated from celebrating her bright future, she gazes up through her windshield at the mysterious planet. Simultaneously, John Burroughs (William Mapother), a talented composer and professor, is at a stop sign, also admiring Earth 2 with his wife and son. When the two collide and tragedy strikes, Rhoda and John’s lives seem to be ruined, yet out of those ruins a beautiful relationship develops and leads to redemption.

Thankfully, the writers of Another Earth don’t attempt to explain any of the science behind the reason for this identical earth suddenly coming in to our orbit. We are simply given the situation and thrown into the drama between the characters.

The best thing about this film is Brit Marling.  First of all, she is absolutely gorgeous in every single scene; even when she dons the coveralls of a school janitor, she still looks beautiful. Besides her natural beauty, she is captivating in the way she moves and speaks on screen. Marling’s counter part, played by William Mapother, expertly fills the roll of a broken man who’s lost all hope until Marling shows up at his door under false pretenses. Nearly the entire story takes place in the space between these two characters. I never felt like anything was missing from the story or the characters, but was wrapped up in their loss, hope and redemption.

In some ways, the story of how the film was made is almost as good as the film itself. Brit Marling dropped out of Georgetown for a while to make a documentary in Cuba with Mike Cahill, a former classmate and friend. After her parents forced her to go back and finish college, she landed a job with Goldman Sachs. After a summer of working 9-5, Marling jumped ship and went back to work with Cahill and co-authored and starred in  Another Earth. The film won several festival awards, including the special Jury Prize at Sundance. It seems that Marling saw her chance at the life she really wanted and went for it. The thought of that beauty and talent stuck behind a desk on wall street is depressing.

My one complaint about Another Earth is the soundtrack. The acting and cinematography are great, especially considering the tiny budget of the film, but the soundtrack sounds like a bunch of stock music and synth swells. I imagine that most viewers wont even notice, but the Hipster Critic always notices soundtracks.

Here’s the thing: you have already seen this movie before, but at the same time, you haven’t. There’s really nothing new or ground breaking about the plot or characters, but it’s just that the story is told so well that everything feels new and fresh. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of age old stories that are told well.