Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother and Matthew-Lee Erlbach
Running time: 92 minutes
Release date: 2 December (South Africa)
Age restriction: 13 M
If there is any genre that encapsulates the “hit and miss” problem, it’s independent science-fiction. Another Earth is somewhere in-between the good and the bad of indie sci-fi – it has a fascinating idea that sometimes suffocates an otherwise good redemption film but has enough drama and compelling characters to combat it’s force-fed concept.
Rhoda (Brit Marling) has just been accepted to MIT and after a night of partying decides to call it a day. While driving home, she is gazes up into the sky to behold a duplicate planet earth hovering among the stars. Her distraction however caused a collision of fates as she crashed violently into another vehicle. John (William Mapother), the owner of the vehicle, fell into a coma but his pregnant wife and young child didn’t survive the ordeal. Rhoda now released from prison takes up a menial janitor position while trying to win a contest to visit Earth 2. But she still seeks redemption for actions so she visits Johns home under false pretenses and offers to clean his home anonymously.
The duplicate Earth concept is interesting despite being scientifically flawed. To be honest though, the film could have done without the sci-fi element constantly hanging overhead because there is a sensible drama beneath the sci-fi candy coating. There is great chemistry between Rhoda and John and I felt that the low key, down to earth perfomances were perfect. But drama aside, the fantastical elements tend to get lost in translation at times which is often the case when the writer is also the director. The concept could have done with more development to integrate it better.
Another aspect that may not be to everyone’s taste is the slow pace of the film. The cleaning scenes become repetitive and provides for a lagging experience from start to finish – not necessarily a bad thing but sitting through it is an emotional journey that will take its toll. That said, it is fortuitous that the lack of conceptual development makes this film accessible to anyone.
Another Earth screams independent sci-fi with an extreme devotion to its conceptual hook. The concept itself outlandish and absorbing but hasn’t been implemented as well as it could have. The drama aspects however are well developed with great, intimate characters defining the world. This film could have been better but it isn’t disappointing – perhaps if there were indeed a duplicate Earth, the film could have tightened up with more than one draft.