Another Earth won two prizes at this year’s Sundance festival, and it is easy to see why. Interesting and thought provoking, it captures your attention in an unexpected way. The premise sounds absurd; a copy of the earth is discovered in the sky, and it is found to contain another version of every person on our planet. Brit Marling plays Rhoda, a student who does something terrible on the night that Earth 2 is discovered. This leads to an obsession with the idea of escaping to that other place.
This film could easily become self indulgent and monotonous, and yet the two story lines run together well. There is a wider sci-fi, otherworldly element which is focused by the more personal story of one’s girls struggle to reconstruct her life. One commendable part of the film is the way in which it feels plausible, as the use of radio broadcasts as background noise create a strong sense of realism.
The relationship between the central character and the man whose life she has ruined (William Mapother) is touching, although bordering on creepy at times. To her credit, Marling, who is on screen for the majority of the film, gives a great performance, conveying the intense emotion of her character whilst managing to remain subtle and restrained. She is a face to watch in 2012, and her talent extends further than acting as she co-wrote and co-produced the film too. If you watch the film for one reason, let it be her performance.
The small budget doesn’t hold the film back, and it is shot in an original way. The use of extreme close-ups mirror the claustrophobia of the protagonist’s own life, and contrast to the film’s wide theme of space exploration. Of course, it is not perfect, and there is a severe overuse of montages of slow motion walking. Overall the director Mike Cahill has made a refined film, which is surprising considering that it was mostly shot in his mother’s house.
Most importantly, ‘Another Earth’ manages to maintain the tension as the film progresses. It could have quickly become boring, but the audience is held in suspense until the very end. Well worth seeing if you fancy something unusual and yet utterly watchable.