Another Earth (Mike Cahill – 2011)

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In the grand history of the cosmos, more than thirteen thousand million years old, our Earth is replicated elsewhere. -It would be very hard to think “I am over there” and “Can I go meet me?” and “Is that me better than this me?” “Can I learn from the other me?” “Has the other me made the same mistakes I’ve made?” Or, “Can I sit down and have a conversation with me?” Wouldn’t that be an interesting thing? The truth is, we do that all day long every day. People don’t admit it and they don’t think about it too much, but they do. Every day, they’re talking in their own head. “What’s he doing?” “Why’d he do that?” “What did she think?” “Did I say the right thing?” In this case, there’s another you out there.

Mike Cahill and Brit Marling take the best elements of science fiction to create something beautiful which explores grief, human interaction and forgiveness. A new planet appears one night in the sky. The entire world is shocked and confused at it’s presence but it’s identical similarity of planet structure. After celebrating high school graduation and entry into prestigious MIT Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) allows herself to be distracted whilst looking upwards instead of ahead while driving. Devastating consequences as she kills the family of composer John Burroughs (Williams Mapother) drastically altering both of their lives forever…on this ‘Planet Earth’ anyway.

After spending four years in prison Rhoda returns to an outside world which has become used to ‘Earth 2′s’ presence and even wants to make contact. She finds herself crossing paths with John on the anniversary of the accident and begins to follow her curiosity and guilt by posing as a house cleaner. A very awkward, sincere connection ensues between them based on lies. Despite age gap and life experience he is unsure why he is shares an unknown deep familarity with his new part time house cleaner and friend. She does completely and in fact is soothing her own guilt at making his widowed and former father family life.

It successfully and believably uses this other ‘Earth 2′ as narrative vehicle to move forward The relationship between Rhoda and John. These identical people on the other planet conjure up various questions of what if? Is his family alive and well on this planet? Does Rhoda have an alternate life where she doesn’t get in the car to drive home from a party? Is the discovery of that planet the cause and shift of what was assumed to be an identical path?

To a certain extent none of these things really matter and its open to individual interpretation. The plot holes and awkward narrative structure are overshadowed rightly by the gorgeous natural pace of a film and Brit Marling who carries the journey. Her character who played by anyone else could have seemed self interested in her attempts to ease her guilt, here she is sincere, remorseful and conveys a deep loss not only of the tragedy itself but that of her future self (wink, wink….for those who gasped at the ending).

Cahill and Marling may have used Earth 2 as a plot point but also Rhoda herself. The way she interprets the arrival of another planet with identical human beings is extremely different to other people due to her circumstances. Everyday she inwardly asks herself what kind of person she really is and appears to keep distance not only from other people but herself as if watching herself lead an alternate life. It’s brilliantly clever and in the last sequences when ironically she seems to have found herself.  She again finds another the ‘Planet 2′ version has arrived on ‘Planet 1’, making her question everything once more.

Von Von Lamunu

 

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