site statistics


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Earth (2011)

What if there was another earth with another you? What if you met this other you? Would you tell yourself what to do and what not to do? Would you save your other you? Would you ask yourself what you think of you? What would you tell yourself if you met yourself? “Better luck next time” says Brit Marling’s character in Mike Cahill’s Another Earth.

Seventeen-year old Rhoda has just received her acceptance letter from MIT. “I felt like anything was possible,” she says having just finished celebrating the occasion. She’s going out for a drive. On the radio, she learns that another earth has been spotted in the sky. She looks out. Her car swerves off course and collides with another car. She survives with minor bruises but the occupants of the other car are seriously injured, two of whom succumb to their injuries. Being a minor, she’s sent to prison for a short term of four years and her identity remains undisclosed.

Skip to four years later. Rhoda is now an emotionally remote island. Her family and she have grown apart. It’s understood that she hasn’t written to or met with them since. Probably to avoid confrontation, to avoid being faced with the knowledge of what she is missing, to avoid being reminded of her stagnant state. Making matters worse is the fact that they are all people who deal with a problem by not talking about it.

There’s a lot running on Rhoda’s mind but she chooses to deal with it by focussing her entire attention on something physical. And so she directs all the negative energy into scrubbing floors and tiles. She feels sorry for herself but self-pity is far outweighed by guilt for having taken the lives of others and leaving a widower stranded. To set things right, she decides to meet with him, apologize and move on.

She goes to meet him, knocks the door but loses her nerve and ends up offering a free cleaning trial service. He invites her in, into his life in shambles. She attempts to restore order to it. Both of them are dealing with emptiness, for different reasons. There’s a connection. The more intimate their relationship becomes the further is the idea of confrontation pushed away.

Meanwhile, there’s an essay contest being held where one lucky winner will be sent to Earth II to meet their other self. Rhoda sends in her entry because she has nothing to look forward to and less to lose. A notable scene involves her hearing of a fellow janitor blinding himself- “He was tired of seeing himself everywhere.” Regret, guilt and redemption are themes grazed through this seamless blend of drama and science fiction.

It’s painful to see her hollow, empty lifelessness. Director Mike Cahill mutes her suffering. The emptiness within her is conveyed by mere silences. The long close ups lets us into her static frame of mind while the jump cuts bring out the uneventful nature of her life. There are several tracking shots of her just walking; to show that she’s all alone in this godforsaken journey.

On the technical front, Another Earth excels. Special mention goes to the sound design. Right from the confident, monotonous voice of the narrator (remember HAL from 2001) to the uncomfortable silences that alternate with strange buzzing noises to the music that summons a fear-of-the-unknown feeling... you really are on another earth.

Towards the end, you see Rhoda walking casually as she lets her fingers softly brush against a wall. She’s finally come to peace with herself and is embracing the now, the world around. And then appears the closing frame, which questions the validity of a lot of what you’ve been told thus far. That’s not to say that Another Earth ends on a this-or-that note, either. There’s so much explanation you can concoct out of this scene. To build the concept and lead us here, I think it’s just a work of genius. Many viewers might find it frustratingly ambiguous because it doesn’t reach a definite, satisfactory conclusion but if a movie has gotten me thinking and considering possibilities, it has already won me over. Another Earth is not just real, it’s felt.

Rating- 9/10


  1. It's a good indie. But to me it was very flawed andmelodramatic. Great review there, man! You've obviously been very taken by it. There's a lot of fondness in your writing. I'll probably give it another shot someday. When I can get past the loopholes that are the size of, well, another earth. xD Till then 7/10 for me.

  2. Nice one. Would really like to check this one out.

    Funny thing is I once mentioned this movie to you. But I only knew of the sci-fi parts then and you commented saying that it sounded stupid. Now you've give it 9 out of 10!

  3. Nice review Rohit, for me the other Earth represents a second chance, but does Rhoda deserve a second chance for what she did?


Large Association of Movie Blogs