Monday, January 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ’12—Another Earth (2011) ****

PG-13, 92 min.
Director: Mike Cahill
Writers: Mike Cahill, Brit Marling
Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother

I’m not often made uncomfortable by movies. “Another Earth” made me uncomfortable. Not for its entire running time, but for a brief period when something that the audience and the main character know shouldn’t be happening is happening. This is part of what is a rather remarkable small budget science fiction movie.

The plot follows Rhoda, who as a teen finds herself accepted into MIT, with her whole life ahead of her. She’s partying one night when news is announced of the appearance of a planet in close proximity to Earth that appears to be an exact copy of our planet. Then Rhoda drives head on into a family of three.

Four years later, Rhoda is released from prison and she learns of the man who survived the accident, who was in a coma at the time she was convicted. She goes to offer her apologies, but loses her nerve and instead offers him cleaning services. Her presence in his house begins to lift him from his malaise, and she begins to feel happy again as well. The rest of the plot I will not divulge, other than the fact that Rhoda has also entered a contest to be the first person to travel to Earth 2.

What evolves from this plot is a most unique and enlightening science fiction that asks us just how do we see ourselves. If we could really talk to another self, what would we tell them? What would we ask them? How would knowing another version of ourselves change us?

“Another Earth” reminded me a great deal of one of my favorite sci-fi movies, the overlooked “Gattaca” from1997. It isn’t as slick or as accomplished as that movie, and it doesn’t explore exactly the same themes, but they are close enough to draw comparisons. This one is much more intimate with its subjects with more romantic themes in place of the noirish feel of the earlier movie. Both, however, have a firm grasp of their science fiction components and ask deep questions about what it is to be human.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Did you like the musical saw scene in Another Earth?
You can hear music from it on the composer's website