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William Mapother
Matthew-Lee Erlbach.
Mike Cahill
Brit Marling
Mike Cahill.
Running Time
92 minutes

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Another Earth
Where navel-gazing meets star-gazing

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On the night news breaks of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, MIT student Rhoda (Marling) crashes her car, killing a family save music professor John Burroughs (Mapother). On her release from prison four years later, Rhoda bluffs her way into Burroughs’ life as a competition is launched to find the first visitor to Earth 2.

Another Earth
There is a heartening story behind Another Earth. Twenty-seven year-old economics graduate Brit Marling turned down a job at Goldman Sachs to pursue an acting career in LA. Eschewing Disposable-Blonde-No. 2-type roles, she taught herself to write, made a documentary, Boxers And Ballerinas, with Mike Cahill, and the pair have now produced this Sundance winner. The ingredients may be bizarre — Twilight Zone sci-fi, Tom Cruise’s cousin, Kieslowski-esque gloom, metaphysical musing, pulsating electronica — but come together into something thought-provoking, fresh and affecting.

In outline, Another Earth has all the elements of an identikit indie: emotionally shattered people rebuilding each other, a rough-hewn aesthetic, an ambient score by Chicago hipsters Fall On Your Sword, even a cameo by Wes Anderson stalwart Kumar Pallana. So far, so Sundance. But Cahill and Marling’s film has bigger fish to fry.

As cosmic as it is introspective, it’s a film that has its eye on the big picture — the realisation of Earth 2 is neatly if modestly evinced — without ever losing sight of the personal dramas. It may have no truck with the science of a duplicate Earth miraculously appearing — there is no discussion of such downers as gravitational pull — but it is alive to the emotional and philosophical ramifications of the conceit (what would you say to yourself if you met yourself?), often conveyed through snatches of media rather than the stultified characters.

Against such lofty concerns, Cahill delivers a satisfying emotional drama. As Rhoda (Marling) poses as a cleaner to inveigle her way into a life she’s wrecked, we get an ages-old plot core — two people slowly get to know each other, but only one of them is aware of their tragic connection — but the tentative build-up and strong playing of Marling and William Mapother (Tom Cruise’s cousin) as the bereaved music professor make you care. Mapother gives the film sympathy but this is Marling’s show, grief-stricken but unsentimental, registering every emotional shift as she comes to terms with what she has done. It’s a great turn that means when the sci-fi strand and the human drama come together, it’s a belter.

A small, personal indie with a huge cinematic and intellectual appetite. It may be too lo-fi for some tastes but it sparks the brain and moves the heart. It also introduces Marling as a bright new star — singular.

Reviewed by Ian Freer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Another Earth
Empire Star Rating

RE: Moving and thought provoking

Spoilers! Rhoda Williams is a high school student fascinated by Astronomy who has been recently accepted to MIT elebrates with friends and drives home intoxicated. Listening to a story on the radio about an approaching planet that looks just like Earth, she looks out her car window up to the stars and inadvertently slams her car through a stopped car at an intersection, putting John Burroughs in a coma and killing his wife and son. After serving her six year prison sentence, Rhoda becomes ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 16:14, 16 January 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Moving and thought provoking

Yes I agree with the previous comment. I watched this and although not 'hooked' I was 'interested' in the story it was telling and the way they told it was quite subtle. It didnt try to explain reasons as to why the earth 2 was just was...and the people in the film had all the same questions as the viewer. Interesting stuff, and the last scene made me think quite a lot about it afterwards.. Because ...highlight.... it was leading based on the first contact was, that everyone on ear... More

Posted by ongbakdan at 13:00, 16 January 2013 | Report This Post

Moving and thought provoking

I felt that there was something about this film that just kept you interested. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I felt like it was getting a little boring, yet I was fascinated by what would eventually happen. I also think it's a film where you're constantly asking yourself and thinking about the question - what would you do if you could see yourself from the outside? What would you say to yourself? What would you see? What would you want to see? All these hypothetical questions and sit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Bendys at 14:58, 11 January 2013 | Report This Post

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