Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another Earth

Another Earth imagines a scenario in which an Earth-like planet appears in the skies above our planet. A mirror-Earth, if you like. In newcomer Mike Cahill’s ambitious film, the philosophical implications of a parallel universe serve as a backdrop for an examination of remorse, regret, and identity. Although traveling to "Earth 2" is a main plot point, the film avoids space travel and other sci-fi conventions. It instead tells a more focused story of a young woman whose costly mistake racks her with guilt. The plot circulates around her attempt to make amends with a man that’s lost his family as a result of her action. Despite the conventional character drama (which necessitates that she doesn't tell him the truth until late in the movie), actors Brit Marling and William Mapother work well with the material and find chemistry in protracted periods of silence. Interspersed throughout the proceedings are clips of radio and TV commentary from scientists ruminating on questions of existence and choice. These sequences are augmented by numerous beautiful shots of Earth 2 hanging over the characters. Certainly, the film’s most memorable element is its visual design, which juxtaposes a hand-held style of realism with such simple, fantastical images. But Another Earth is too heavy with allegory to make the most of its unique disposition as a character study and thinkpiece. Accordingly, despite its potential, this “indie sci-fi” experiment somewhat falls short of achieving a distinct vision. (Mike Cahill, 2011) **½

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