In Another Earth, a globe just like ours looms in the sky with a smirk. On the eve of its discovery, Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling, who also wrote the movie) is a movie perfect blonde with an admit letter from MIT — but then she drives drunk and kills two–thirds of a family.
After four years in prison, she emerges in time to enter a contest which would send her on a voyage to “Earth 2” and allow her to escape the misery on the first earth.
Upon gaining her freedom, Rhoda dips into a depression in which she wears her hair all messy and looks frumpy in a blue janitor onesie. When she finds herself cleaning the icy home of the survivor of her car crash, a spooky professor (William Mapother), she is forced to confront the other soul wounded by the tragedy she caused.
The movie is about a mirror planet touching ours — you can almost hear that tired word whispered in the theater: “meta.” The giant hanging symbol in the sky demands that this movie be interpreted, that it mean something, and that everything be a metaphor, in a film school sort of way.
Some will appreciate this and some will find it insufferable. Stylistically, the movie seems like it was group–sourced by Tumblr’s best. The typography is great, but the blue tinge to every other scene looks like it was filmed on Hipstamatic. There are too many loving shots of Rhoda’s hair, Rhoda’s fingers, the reflection of Rhoda’s pout in the subway window -— when the camera meditates on dust swimming in the light, it gets to be too much.
Another Earth is most effective in its portrayal of Rhoda’s isolation, leaving her alone for much of the film. That’s why a quick scene where she runs into a high school friend at the grocery leaves an impact: only then do we see that Rhoda indeed exists on another earth, except this planet is a metaphorical one of her making. The film’s depiction of earth’s search for planetary neighbors runs parallel to Rhoda’s search for human connection. “Am I alone?” becomes the film’s primary question.
Another Earth is flawed, plodding, and wonderful. Perhaps each moment of the film isn’t paralyzingly compelling, but you can't escape the sense that the film is fumbling towards some new frontier of the artform.
Another Earth Directed by: Mike Cahill Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother Rated PG–13, 92 min.