Another Earth

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B

Whereas most science fiction films from this year have been about complicated technologies, explosions and a focus on entertainment, Another Earth is a movie about thoughts. While the film may not excite all audiences, those interested in seeing a contemplative, thoughtful film will be pleased.

After a parallel Earth is discovered within our solar system, we are suddenly faced with the possibility of another us. Using this brilliant science fiction premise, the film follows a young woman, played by stunning newcomer Brit Marling (who also co-wrote the film), as she deals with everyday problems and extraordinary circumstances while contemplating this earth-shattering revelation that we aren’t alone.

The film’s greatest strength is that it allows the science fiction premise to affect every aspect of its story while never completely taking over or burdening it. You could easily describe Another Earth without giving away any of the science fiction elements. At its heart, it’s a film about damaged people coming to terms with loss and forgiveness.

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In honor of letting you be surprised by this film, I won’t go into the sultry details about the science fiction elements, but I will say that the film provides an idea of alternate lives and realities in a unique and refreshing way. Although its approach was much different, we have seen a similar science fiction element in the hit Source Code, and I would argue that Another Earth succeeds in making its science fiction philosophy much clearer than the crowd-pleaser. These two films are certainly working on different levels, and it would be interesting to see how Another Earth would benefit from more or less science fiction, but I think the film adds just enough in the background to provide interesting ideas while striving to be an emotional, character piece.

If there is a major problem with the film, it comes with the love story plot-line, which is so muted that it flirts with becoming mundane. I am a strict critic of films that sell implausible romances and unremarkable love stories, and while Another Earth presents a situation that I find realistic, it doesn’t quite earn some of its key moments. More specifically, due to the tone and meandering nature of its story, when our two main characters begin to have an emotional connection, I felt that the film skipped a few steps. In a film that is so much about the relationship of two characters, this would usually be completely damning, but there is enough in the film for this to be forgiven.

A small, quiet picture, Another Earth is undeniably one of the more creative indie pictures released in the past few years. Unlike most sci-fi, you won’t come out of the screening with your adrenaline pumping, rather the film allows you to question the realities and consequences of life, which is quite a lofty goal for a film of any genre. Some may be left wanting a little more given the intriguing sci-fi possibilities, and I can understand that feeling, but with the right expectations and a mind open to tackling the appropriately unanswered philosophical questions left by the end of the film, it will stick with you.

tags: another earth, brit marling, Mike Cahill, William Mapother

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