Published Jul 28, 2011Good science fiction uses the fantastic as a means of exploring human experience. While it's not the most engaging science or fiction, Another Earth excels at prodding the fragile heart of self-acceptance.
An interesting premise ― scientists discover an identical Earth in our solar system ― serves as an excuse to philosophize on the means by which we measure our choices and the subsequent judgements we apply to ourselves based on the outcome of those actions.
Turning a childhood fascination with the movement of Jupiter's gases into a career trajectory, Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is celebrating her acceptance to MIT on the night the doppelganger planet is discovered. Drunk and trying to catch a glimpse of the glowing blue dot in the sky described on the radio while driving, Rhoda smashes into another vehicle, drastically changing the few lives not ended by the tragic accident.
Four years later, Rhoda re-enters society, marginalised by the stigma attached to being a felon and her own need to repent beyond the arbitrary standards of the judicial system. Most of the sci-fi elements are gleaned from television and radio coverage, but occasionally a random voiceover pops up to raise philosophical questions that should already be on the minds of discerning viewers.
It's a sloppy storytelling tactic that could've easily been handled in the same peripheral way as other expository information, or omitted in favour of respect for the audience's ability to process story implications themselves. From a technical standpoint, the film fails to visually support emotionally raw performances by Marling and William Mapother (Ethan from Lost), suffering from amateurish cinematography, jarring zooms and oft ill-considered lighting. Excellent music by Fall On Your Sword partially offsets these missteps.
Unfortunately, the science being espoused can't be taken seriously, or the film's logic implodes; it's a shame, since being distracted by unrealistic depictions unimportant to the plot could derail the dramatic impact of the real story.
Another Earth isn't about scientific theory; it's about adjusting self-perceptions in order to preserve one's sanity and find the beauty buried in even the ugliest of life's experiences. Because, ultimately, you are all you have. (Fox Searchlight)