24 November 2012

Another Earth

(Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi. Year: 2011. Studio: Fox Searchlight & Artist Public Domain. Country: U.S.A.

Another Earth  Poster For those expecting a Hollywood apocalyptic thriller, "Another Earth" would be disappointing. It is basically a science-fiction movie with an abstract metaphysical theory of parallel worlds. Otherwise, it is easy to follow and to enjoy by its straightforward style in presentation. It tells its story by a sequence of closely correlated scenes - poetically with surreal music and sceneries, and efficiently with voiced-over messages.

The theory of parallel worlds or lives is not uncommon in novels and movies. One good example is Krzystof Kieslowski's 1991 movie of "The Double Life of Veronique/La double vie de Véronique" in which a French Veronique and a Polish Weronika bare a mirror-like image, follow a starkly similar life and share an inexplicable transcendental connection.

This movie extrapolates the theory further by creating an Earth 2 where everything and possibly every person have an identical twin on our Earth. This Earth 2 suddenly appears in the skies above us because of non-explainable reasons - a breakdown of barrier, a transposition of spatial and time dimensions, etc. The movie asks "What would happen when one confronts with one's mirror image in another Earth?" and "Any cataclysmic consequences to future events in the time line?"

Without any philosophical concepts, the movie becomes an odd human interaction between a bright 21 year-old girl and an aging Yale professor. Driven by remorse, the girl nurtured the thought to rehabilitate the destroyed life of the much older man. In the end, they had a sexual relationship.


Having been accepted by MIT, Rhoda Williams (played by Brit Marling) revelled and drank in a high school party. She drove home alone. From the car radio, a blue star resembling our Earth was appearing in the eastern sky. Gazing at the blue object, she veered from her lane and plowed into a parked car at an intersection. She was slightly injured but able to stagger over to the other car — seeing two motionless bodies inside and a boy laying face down on the sidewalk. This accident led to heavy injury to the other driver and the death of his wife and young son. Rhoda was convicted of drunk driving and was in prison for four years.

After her release, she withdrawed herself to an attic room although she managed to find a janitorial job at a high school. One day, when she returned to the place of accident, she saw a pick-up truck stop at the spot. A man got out, placed a bunch of flowers at the bottom of a pole and quickly drove off. Later she found out from her laptop computer of the identity of the man — John Burroughs, a Yale music professor (played by William Mapother).

After work, she went to John's house to apologize for her wrongdoing. Lacking courage to make the apology face-to-face, she lied instead by asking for hourly work for a maid-service company. At the end of the free trial, she was asked to return next week. So, she started to clean John's house.

Meanwhile, the Earth-like features of the blue star were becoming more apparent. This star, now named Earth 2, had contacted us through radio waves. A millionaire set up a space travel company and ran a promotion contest for a trip to Earth 2. She had always interested in stars and astronomy. Moreover she was curious to find any existence of her twin in another planet, she thus entered into the contest.

In the process of helping John re-establish his ruined life, she seemed to be escaping from her own cocoon. She also opened up her feelings to a similar lonely co-worker, Purdeep (played by Kumar Pallana), with which she had a silent emotional link.

Normally, the lonesome girl and professor could continue on their developed relationship to (or not to) finish the story with a real romance. Nevertheless, Rhoda became the lucky winner of the contest. In the end, would she travel to renew her life on another Earth?



1. The image of Earth 2 was becoming larger as time went by; the image was also smaller in the night than the day. The director might intend to add something to the mystery of his metaphysical theory.
2. John Burroughs brought Rhoda to a music hall where he played some out-of-world tunes on the blade of a long saw. This unusual musical instrument was also included in another Sci-Fi movie - a 1991 French post-apocalyptic comedy film of "Delicatessen."


Brit Marling as Rhoda Williams
William Mapother as John Burroughs
Kumar Pallana as Purdeep
Jordan Baker as Kim Williams


Directed by Mike Cahill
Written by Mr. Cahill and Brit Marling
Produced by Hunter Gray, Mike Cahill, Brit Marling and Nick Shumaker
Filmed in New England, USA
Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Released in 2011
Running Time: 92 min

Rotten Tomatoes: 64% ranking from critics poll
Award: Alred P. Sloan Prize, 2011 Sundance Film Festival
Budget: US$200 thousand, estimate
World Box Office: US$1.8 million
US Box Office: US$1.3 million


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