Rates: * * * 1/2
Why Did I Watch It? I was over at fatiekitz’s house for classic movie night and we could not get ‘Beau Travais’ to play. She had this on blu ray and neither of us had seen it.
A young, space fixated student, on the verge of a promising academic career, drunkenly smashes her car, killing a pregnant mother and son. But this is not just a random accident. A second Earth has just been discovered in the sky, and our protagonist had been staring dreamingly out the window at it. Fate, very strange fate, has intervened in these lives.
Actress and co-writer Britt Marling has made her career around a very particular type of movie; ultra low key, ethereal sci fi, where the more genre-y elements provide a strange backdrop for a collection of troubled souls trying to sort out their lives. My favourite of these is ‘The Sound of My Voice’, where Marling plays a cult leader who claims to be from the future, and my least favourite is ‘The East’, which has a similar plot that doesn’t work quite as well.
‘Another Earth’ falls somewhere in between.
The other earth is largely in the background, as the story focusses on Marling’s character, Rhoda; jailed after the car accident, the story picks up a few years later as she tries to re-engage with the world after her release. This leads her to the car crashes only survivor, a music composer grieving over his wife and son, wallowing in alcoholism and depression.
The two connect, tentatively at first, then friendship slowly blossoming into romance; Rhoda, of course, hides her real identity from him. She also spends quite a bit of time wandering about the streets, staring dreamily at the new planet hanging in the sky. How you respond to this movie will probably depend on how you feel about this element of it; either nothing is happening, or Rhoda is wrestling with emotions she cannot express.
I fell mainly into the first category; a little of this quiet, hypnotic moodiness goes a long way. But the film does spark to life at times; the standout scene is when Rhoda tells a story about the first man in space, coping with isolation through the power of his imagination. And the ending: well the ending has undeniably got SOMETHING. It tries to link all of these disparate threads – the car crash, fate, this romance based on a lie, guilt, a second earth, manifest destiny, nature v. nurture, ALL of it – into one meaningful scene that lasts approximately 4 seconds.
A very tough and ambitious maneouvre. And I think, for this four second moment at least, it all kinda worked.