I went to see Another Earth during Warsaw Film Festival in 2011. I didn’t know anything about it before. I didn’t watch any trailers or read any reviews. I vaguely recall that the title looked convincing enough for me to add it to my list of must-see positions during this two-weeks-long movie feast.
The beginning of the movie presents two intertwining objectives, one being the story of a girl named Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), second being the sudden discovery of an Earth-like planet in our infinite solar system.
As ambitious as Rhoda is, hearing about a contest, in which the winner is sent to this duplicate planet as the first explorer, she makes it her priority to win it. Unfortunately, all of her vivid daydreams are ruined in an instant, as she causes a horrible car crash. A man (William Mapother) survives, but his wife and son died on the spot. With an enormous feeling of guilt, that burns her from deep inside, she decides to take a very risky step. Mainly, she goes to the man’s house and offers him her duties as a cleaner, without any pay. John, not knowing who she really is, casually chooses to accept the deal. Later on, after many meetings and talks with Rhoda he becomes to fill the painful emptiness in his heart with her persona. He starts to feel attached to her and is fascinated by her passionate view on the topic of a New Earth.
And all would be well if it wasn’t for that overpowering and crushing sense of guilt that Rhoda has to bear inside. Suddenly, she can’t take it anymore and has to share the tragic truth with John, knowing how horrible the consequences may actually be…
The slow pace of the film and its melancholic ambiance is like a mechanism that was made to grasp the viewer’s attention incrementally, and it doesn’t let one loose sight of what’s about to happen even for a moment.
I think it’s brilliant how Mike Cahill was able to insert a somehow cosmic and supernatural concept into this dramatic recollection of a tragedy and hope for redemption. The possibility of a planet, that basically exists in a different dimension, and the thoughts that we may not be alone in the universe, were always present in the human mind. It’s even more overwhelming to note that there may really be people like us somewhere, our own shadows with the same needs and dreams.
All those serious scenes of a man struggling with a horrible loss, and a girl that tries to reverse the irreversible, are cleverly disrupted by the idyllic looks at the titular Another Earth, floating far in the outer space.
Then there is the ending, which shows probably the most surprising, and at the same time, the scariest scene of the whole film. It leads to various questions, but no answers are given. Leaving the cinema I was distracted, curious, even confused maybe. And I thought: is there another me, somewhere in the galaxy, doing exactly the same thing right now?