July 22, 2011 (LIMITED)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
1 hour 32 minutes
Have you ever wondered if there was another form of life out there, just waiting to be discovered by us humans? What if these extra terrestrials were humans like us on a planet considered to be identical to our own? That is only the backdrop of the recent Sundance hit, Another Earth. The movie may seem like a full blown sci-fi spectacle, but it really is a drama with a sci-fi element in it. Fox Searchlight, who won an impressive distribution competition between other well known indie studios decided to get director Mike Cahill and Brit Marling to go on a six city tour and hold special screenings of this movie, with Q&As immediately after. Philadelphia was one of the six lucky cities chosen to hold one of these six screenings, and I was lucky enough to attend the event. I am very happy to report that this movie is very well acted, intriguing throughout, yet can also be disturbing and complex during parts. Another Earth is a well conceived drama promising a strong future for lead actress Brit Marling and director Mike Cahill, plus giving the audience the best interpretation ending since last year's Inception.
On the eve of the discovery of a new planet identical to our own, the lives of Rhoda Williams and John Burroughs quickly became intertwined. Rhoda is a bright young woman who has just been accepted into the astrophysics program at MIT. John is a brilliant composer with a loving wife and son, and is soon expecting a second child. Tragedy strikes between the two and Rhoda is sent to jail for what she did. Four years pass, Rhoda is free from jail, and the new planet, now being called "Earth 2" is close enough to our planet where we have the ability to communicate with and travel to it. Rhoda wants to apologize to John for the crime she committed, but things soon get complicated as both of their lives become parallel to one another.
If you're going to see this movie because you want a science fiction movie, you will probably come out of this being very disappointed. There is only one thing about this movie that's science fiction related, and that's the fact that there's an identical Earth floating around our Earth. This movie is really a drama, and with a drama comes a dark and disturbing nature to it. If you can't handle that you will be disturbed and sad by the outcome of the characters in this movie within the first 10 minutes of the film, then you might as well buy a ticket for something else. The disturbing nature of this movie is only supported, not just the excellent/original concept of this film, but by the astounding cast put into these characters dark situations.
I have to say that the best thing about this movie is the excellent cast portraying these disturbed characters. William Mapother, possibly best known for his role on 'Lost' is excellent as John. You really do get to know this character after his accident, and he does deliver some funny lines, one in particular involves clever product placement use involving the Wii. He is the heart and soul of this movie, no doubt. But even this well known actor couldn't match the soul of newcomer actress/co-writer of the film Brit Marling, who plays the main lead, Rhoda.
Despite being the cause for the tragedy of John and his family, you still care for her and feel the pain and emptiness that has been bubbling inside of her for the four years she spent in jail. Do you remember last year when a little movie called 'Winter's Bone' came onto the scene, and made Jennifer Lawrence a big star? I believe that this movie may pull off a 'Winter's Bone,' and make Brit Marling a huge star. Marling give a powerful performance that will shock you and please you throughout the movie's hour and a half long running time. If there is any reason to see this movie, it is to check out one of the many up and coming new stars of 2011. I mentioned earlier that I got to meet Marling after the screening, and if she's reading this, I hope I get to meet you when you become an even bigger star than you are currently.
If you're looking for a sci-fi classic like Inception or District 9, then you might as well go see something else. The science fiction aspect heavily shown in the trailers is just the outer shell of this movie. The core of this movie is a drama, and that's all you're going to get in this movie. Sure there may be a couple of light hearted moments in this movie, but make sure you're going into this movie knowing that it's a drama. If you know that you're going into a dark, sometimes disturbing drama instead of a sci-fi, then you will enjoy this movie. The acting is superb, the cinemaphotography is great, and director Mike Cahill should become a household name after this movie is released. I will be very shocked if Brit Marling isn't even considered to be an Oscar contender, both for acting and co-writing this movie with director Mike Cahill.
The one thing that I didn't care for in this movie was that the relationship between Rhoda and John could never happen in real life. I was sort of cringing in my seat every time they were with eachother, because you have to remember what Rhoda did to John's family. Other than this plot malfunction, the movie still soars over other indies to come out this year, probably because Mike Cahill is a great storyteller. This may be the most compelling original story that you will see this year. However like Inception, I still have many questions to ask the director and star of the movie that I wish I thought of asking them when I met them. I want your interpretations of the movie and its ending if you happen to go, so please leave them in the comments section of this review below. If you want a compelling drama disguised as a sci-fi with a great original story and sublime acting, then you just might want to travel to Another Earth.