Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Earth [review]

This is a low-budget film, but let's not turn it down just because of that. Frankly, a lot of low-budget films have taken me by surprise and this is no different. I'm mesmerized, to say the least. It's a mix of drama and science fiction. From the poster or...this picture below, you'd see a planet just like ours so close and real as if you can just reach out your hand to it. In this film, astronomy just got even more interesting when fellow scientists discover that there's another Earth out there, which they named as Earth 2. They believe that it's a mirror to our own planet, which means that there just could be another us living there. Just recall Fringe and its alternate universe theory. But the main story isn't about this other planet, in fact, the title can be rather misleading. I was actually watching this expecting theories and a bunch of scientists trying to figure out this new planet. But it turns out to be a whole other kind of plot. However, it's still great, if not very moving.

The main character is a smart high school graduate, Rhoda, who just got accepted into MIT for astrophysics (if I'm not wrong), but a mere recklessness, often found in youngsters having too much fun, caused her to run into another vehicle carrying a family of 4 including an unborn baby. She was under the influence of alcohol, I presume. The catch here is that she was actually looking out the window to the sky, trying to spot the duplicate planet as she hears the radio about it and didn't notice her front.

Spending 4 years in jail as a minor, upon release, she is accepted back into her loving family, but can't help feeling guilt-ridden for her past that claimed 3 lives, hence a suicide attempt that failed.  Although she is once a bright student, she doesn't continue down that road but prefers to work whereby she doesn't need to communicate much with people and work with hands. She lands a job as a janitor at a local high school. One night, out of curiosity, she begins to investigate the remaining survivor of the crash, a Yale Professor, a composer named John Burroughs.

She goes to his house, thinking to apologize for what she did, but in the end, can't do it and finds herself disguising as a cleaner instead. Her fake trial cleaning plan and a cleaning company that doesn't exist are somehow believable for John. John has been living in the dirty and unkempt condition ever since he awakens from coma and Rhoda thinks she should do something just to let him live better.

Meanwhile, Rhoda enters the competition to win a a trip to Earth 2 by submitting an essay of 500 words. Her honesty in the essay wins her the spot finally. 

Music with the saw.....amazing!

As I'm not going to spoil it all for you, let's go to the performances and ultimately, whether this film is worthy of your time. Rhoda is portrayed by Brit Marling, who also serves as a co-writer of this film. I think this is her first film I've watched, can't compare with her others but the character is very real, raw and convincing as an ex-convict. That said, I think Brit plays Rhoda beautifully. As for the character, I don't sympathize with her much, but at the same time, you're pulled into her world and before long, it makes you want to know what will eventually become of her. Her co-star, William Mapother, also does John justice. He manages to put this miserable, lonely and messy John out there that I do feel for him. They have great chemistry with each other. Just a special mention, I really like her relationship with the co-janitor she's working with. That tiny arc of his is quite moving too. So performances by the actors are top-notch. What else contributes to this film?

Photobucket The scenes... are breathtaking and carefully captured to convey certain emotions. I love almost the entire film and how the director shoots it. There's also constant scenes to show audiences Earth 2, some in the most appealing way ever that I can't take my eyes off them. Sometimes I'd just push the reverse button for that.

Having said that, this award winning film at Sundance is about forgiving, hope and chance to start anew. It's not heavy but enough to captivate, at least I truly enjoy it. Though the title may not seem to have any relation to the plot, there's a hidden message to it. I'm left wanting more at the ending scene, but it'd definitely surprise you.

Rating: 9/10 - for the way this is filmed by Mike Cahill (director) and superb acting performances


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