Indie Sci-Fi

Another Earth (2011): One of those Sci-Fi’s that ain’t quite a sci-fi?

Another Earth (2011) is described as a science fiction/drama, directed by Mike Cahill.

Rhoda (played by Brit Marling who also co-wrote the film), a young astro-physicist wannabe, is about to embark on her college journey at MIT.  She dreams of the stars.  After celebrating with friends and drinking, she drives home slightly intoxicated.  There is a newsflash on the radio : an earth-like planet has appeared in the sky – she looks out the window whilst driving to gaze up at this other planet earth, and before you know it , bang – crashes into another car, killing two of its three passengers – father/husband John (William Mapother) survives.
We next meet Rhoda when she is released from her four year jail term (imprisoned for manslaughter).  She is a woman now living on the edge – having caused the death of two, and destroying John’s life, she feels utter remorse.  Instead of going back to pursue her college dreams the only job she can bring herself to perform to pass the days is as a cleaner – wearing the kind of attire which reflects her desolate mood.

ugly clothes

Several theories about ‘Earth 2’ begin to arise as the plot unfolds: startlingly, that this second Earth is a mirror image of Earth, with beings who are leading their lives in parallel to those here at home.  Rhoda clings to this hope – perhaps her mirror image did not commit this life altering accident of a crime – she enters a competition to travel over to the planet.

Rhoda’s appearance is deliberately played down (- this is a low-budget indie film after all), you can see that she is a beautiful woman – considerate and intelligent – and desperately want to see her pulled out of this miserable mess, and get back on the path to following some part of her dream.  You want her to make amends with John, whose family she had destroyed.

There are some insightful voice-over monologues in the film: reflecting on space exploration – exploration of the unknown and the curiosity we would all have about confronting a mirror version of ourselves.

I think this film had a great story – that wasn’t quite fully realised to the extent that it could have been.  The ‘small’ elements of science fiction driving the plot mainly drove the drama played out by Rhoda and John which seemed to be the focus of the film.

That being said – I wish there were more films being made like this one!