Debut director Mike Cahill’s Another Earth imagines not just another planet capable of housing human life but another planet on which humans irrefutably live. It doesn’t stop there: on this planet, which has recently appeared in the sky, another version of every person on Earth exists. Another you, another me. A parallel planet, or perhaps a paradoxical world?
We Rated: ★★★★★
Director: Mike Cahill
The idea behind Another Earth first developed out of director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling speculating as to what it would be like were one to encounter one’s own self. In order to explore the possibility on a large scale, they devised the concept of a duplicate Earth. The visual representation of the duplicate planet was deliberately made to evoke the Moon, as Cahill was deeply inspired by the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing.
The film was made on a budget of $200,000, it was met in January with much lauding at the 27th Sundance Film Festival.
Cahill’s thought filled drama draws together the wild optimism of youth, a sold local feel and the wry irony of nauseating, unstoppable events, the film wears a good solid narrative.
The colloquial point of view is enchanting – very Coen Bros - Another Earth was filmed in and around New Haven, Connecticut, Cahill’s hometown. Cahill’s childhood home was used as Rhoda’s home and his bedroom as Rhoda’s room.
On the night of the discovery of Earth2 , an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic, life changing accident.
The plot of this dreamy indie flick sounds like altogether low: young woman with a bright future kills a man’s wife and child while driving drunk and struggles to secretly make it up to him
This tragedy takes place behind a science fiction facade. A newly discovered planet advancing on Earth appears to be a mirror image of our own planet, a parallel planet?
Rhoda Williams , Brit Marling - who co-wrote the film’s script with Cahill – was a promising young high school student, just accepted to MIT, a night of drinking and driving led to her crashing into the Burroughs family, killing the wife and child. Left behind is husband and father John Burroughs - William Mapother – also at a pinnacle in his life as a composer, a music professor and devoted father.
Both Rhoda and John are destroyed, shattered by the car accident. Coincidentally the same night Earth 2 revealed itself in our sky. Four years later, and both are living vacant lives, void of peace or salvation. Until a misunderstanding places them in each other’s lives in a very different, very new way.
Marling’s opening narrative is solid, setting the tone of the film, her gorgeous young voice is an insatiable introduction to a great, often stoically undertoned screen presence.
With Earth2 hovering on the horizon like a pale blood moon, the judicial system done punishing Rhoda, her life now broken down, moment to moment, struggling to get to grips at the disaster she has created.
Mapother’s performance is equally as melancholic, his gruff, dismissive presence is a nice contrary view to down. The two actors dance around one another nicely, the apprehension is shared, as if the audience is the only other person who knows why this relationship is tentative.
Clearly I liked this film, it is unpretentious, real, visually it doesn’t feel like a shortcut.
Marling, clad in shapeless navy overalls, face hidden by a wool tuque for much of the film, has shed her allure, aside for slim glimpses. Her beauty is incidental to her. Marling is impeccably in tune with Rhoda; every action feels true.
Another Planet is quiet film, with a consistent economical dialogue. Visually, the film is interesting, pleasing to the eye, the use of muted colors presents scenes that look real, draw us back to this small world – as opposed to drifting off to a side story about a NEW PLANET.
Mapother’s gruff anger bubbles, easing to the surface, disrupting this quiet film at intervals that are hard to predict, his timing is superb.
People who don’t particularly like sci-fi shouldn’t stay away from Another Earth. Earth2 adds an element of mystery and an undercurrent of fear, but never overwhelms the central story of Rhoda and John in recovery.
Most of what the audience learns about the other planet comes from radio broadcasts, it’s the background hum of the movie, the voice of Richard Berendzen adds to the ironic feel, representing the same kind of what-if theme of human connectivity explored in Kieslowski’s films.
At one point, Rhoda is asked what what would she say to her Earth2 double? “Better luck next time,” she says — but the movie makes a case for a more profound conversation built on compassion and forgiveness.
The emotional build in this film is gradual, well paced. As the two characters grow, so does the our hope for this pair.
The musical score was composed by Fall on Your Sword, with the exception of the haunting tune played on the saw, composed by Scott Munson and performed by Natalia Paruz. Mike Cahill came upon Paruz, known also as the ‘Saw Lady’, while riding the subway in New York. Mesmerized by her playing, he obtained her contact information and arranged for her to coach William Mapother on how to hold and act as if playing the saw for the scene in the film.
In the music score, there is an instrument for each character. Rhoda is the Cello and John is the Piano. In the love scene both instruments are heard, however not fully in synch, since they are not really a full match in real life
My only complaint in this film is the end, the final scene. Sometimes we need to let scenes sink in just a little slower, for the sake of an extra 45 seconds the entire audience might have grasped the gravity of Brit looking at a paradox?
- Solaris …another film about a sort of parallel Earth
- Journey to the Far Side of the Sun …a 1969 science-fiction film with a similar premise.
- Counter-Earth hypothesis, which posits that a duplicate of Earth exists opposite of its orbit in order to balance the otherwise unstable geocentric orbit of the planets.
- Twin Earth thought experiment Hilary Putnam’s classic thought experimnt arguing in favor of semantic externalism