ANOTHER EARTH

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JANUARY 22, 2012

“Another Earth” is less a film about discovering another planet inhabited by life and more about the connections between specific individuals and finding a way to live with the consequences of poor decisions.

The film opens in New Haven with the bright Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) getting accepted into MIT. After making the unfortunate decision to drink and drive, Rhoda’s inattentive gaze toward the night sky causes a fatal accident in which she kills a mother and son. The father falls into a coma.

Rhoda does her time and, upon her release, takes a high school janitorial job to “busy” her hands. All the while, the buzz of a second Earth fills the media outlets and the sky. When Rhoda finds that the comatose father, John Burroughs (William Mapother), has come to, she sets out to apologize. Though she cannot bear to come clean, she instead becomes John’s house-cleaner, giving back in the only way she can. Their relationship grows and eventually blossoms just as Rhoda discovers she has won an essay contest to be one of the first people to visit the second Earth.

Key scenes create beautiful moments that pull emotions strategically without effort. Early on, a sequence involving Rhoda’s first sign of emotional healing hits home. Who knew the simple act of buying a box of gummy bears could cause an emotional response? However, seeing Rhoda so happy over such a minimal purchase made my day. So when she runs into an old classmate that seems to be making something of himself and decides against buying the now “insignificant” box of tasty bears, I was heartbroken for her. Empathy becomes a filmmaker’s gift. If I can feel an emotion strong enough to react the same way as the character, the filmmaker has done something extraordinary.

However, the scene that brought me to tears was Rhoda visiting Purdeep (Kumar Pallana), her fellow janitor who takes his own sight and hearing. As she lays with him, signing with her finger on the palm of his hand, that deep connection that she makes with someone shows the extent of her compassion and the boundless capacity of the human heart.

“Another Earth” is a labor of love in Mike Cahill’s second collaboration with actress, producer, and writer Brit Marling. The film is rich with emotion, ripe with stunning visuals, and chock-full of commendable cinematic choices, setting this independent film apart from its peers as recognized at Sundance this past year.

RELEASE DATE
July 22, 2011

DIRECTOR
Mike Cahill

WRITTEN BY
Mike Cahill
Brit Marling

STUDIO
Fox Searchlight Pictures

PG-13
(for disturbing images, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use)

DRAMA
ROMANCE
SCI-FI
92 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Mike Cahill

COMPOSER
Fall On Your Sword

EDITOR
Mike Cahill

CAST
Brit Marling
William Mapother
Jordan Baker
Robin Lord Taylor
Flint Beverage
Kumar Pallana
Diane Ciesla
Rupert Reid

PRODUCED BY
Hunter Gray
Mike Cahill
Brit Marling
Nicholas Shumaker

BUDGET
$100,000

6 Comments on “Movie Review: Another Earth (2011)

  1. What a great scene indeed. They could have easily had the character play the piano, but having him play the saw made it a much more extraordinary and unique occurrence. Thanks for the link. I hope you don’t mind if I re-post it.

  2. I can’t say I agree with you here, the good outweigh the bad in Another Earth, but I felt there were too many scenes that just weren’t needed, like the writer was doing his best to push the film just over the 1 hour 30 mark. However, Cahill’s direction was good and I liked the whole idea of the film.

    But, if you like it that’s great πŸ˜€ Good review!

    • No worries. I tend to enjoy when people disagree with me on tastes. It allows for an outside perspective. And I somewhat get where you’re coming from. The scenes of Rhoda cleaning John’s house each week become rather repetitive, though I enjoyed the extra time to contemplate their relationship and her mindset. I especially liked the struggle she has the first time, where she almost leaves like three times. But what scenes exactly did you feel were unneeded if I may ask?

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