Review: Another Earth

Another Earth pic

Directed by Mike Cahill
Starring Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach,
Release date 9th December 2011

On the same day that a new Earth-like planet is discovered, drunk student Rhoda (Marling) crashes her car into a family, killing the pregnant wife and son of music professor John (Mapother). After being released from prison, she goes to work as a cleaner for the grieving John, who is unaware of her true identity. As Rhoda tries to pluck up the courage to reveal the truth, she applies to become one of the first space tourists to visit Earth 2…

The tropes of the mumblecore movie – introspective young characters, troubled relationships, languid silences, an ambient or shoegazing soundtrack, a lack of narrative drive, naturalistic dialogue and performances – have slowly worked their worked their way into other genres. Sometimes this has been entirely successful (see Monsters); sometimes it has resulted in abject failure (don’t see Dead Hooker in a Trunk).

Another Earth isn’t a failure exactly, but its appeal is likely to rest on how much po-faced moping and angsty self-reflexion you can handle in one film.

There’s a neat, classic sci-fi concept at the heart of the story – the discovery of a new planet that appears to be a mirror of Earth. But don’t expect any Journey to the Far Side of the Sun-style fun here. Rather, the mirror planet here is intended to be a metaphor for second chances and how we should take a look at our lives from a different perspective (or something); for the most part, the sci-fi elements remain in the background.

The relationship between the two damaged protagonists does eventually become reasonably affecting, helped by believably brooding performances from young co-writer/co-producer Marling and Lost’s Mapother, and director Mike Cahill builds up a certain tension from the familiar scenario of a character hiding a dark secret from someone they have come to care about.

But Cahill tries far too hard to create an angsty atmosphere and sense of verisimilitude. The overuse of wobbly cameras and sudden zooms, the frequent shots of characters sat around doing not a lot, and the ever-present ambient soundtrack all conspire to make Another Earth feel more like a parody of a lo-fi indie flick than anything original or genuinely heartfelt. Matt McAllister

Magical and moving or irritating, self-conscious and pretentious, depending on your point of view.


One thought on “Review: Another Earth

  1. Did you like the musical saw scene in Another Earth? You can hear (and download) music from it on the composer’s website

    Posted by Michelle | December 10, 2011, 5:19 pm

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