You know when you come across a movie trailer for a film you’ve never heard of before, and the trailer alone is enough to get you stoked on seeing it? Such is the case with this science fiction drama, director Mark Cahill’s first feature length film. I went into the theater with high expections…and left disappointed on almost all levels. Another Earth fails to deliver on its fascinating premise, instead reworking a familiar Hollywood cliché with a science fiction backdrop. The final product is frustrating, pretentious, but most of all…completely absurd.
A young woman named Rhoda (played by Brit Marling, who also co-wrote the film) crashes her car into a family parked at a stoplight, killing the wife and 5-year-old son and putting the husband into a coma. She spends four years in prison, and upon leaving she lands a job as a janitor at a high school (because schools hire newly released felons on a regular basis, right?). Hoping to make amends, she goes to the man’s house to apologize and lay her guilt to rest. But she loses courage, winds up cleaning his house, and the two of them fall in love. This is a familiar Hollywood trope that was been done plenty of times before. The only difference is that all of this is set against a science fiction backdrop, wherein astronomers find a duplicate Earth in the sky. The film poses the question: what if there was another you out there? As it turns out, this new Earth is home to, you guessed it, another version of all of us!
The film too heavily emphasizes poetry over plot. There are plot-holes aplenty in this movie. For starters, the planet just “appears” in the sky. Apparently astronomers just sort of missed this mass which can be seen with the naked eye. Ok. So four years go by, and the planet gets closer to our planet. Like, really close! Do you know what kind of catastrophic effect that would have on the tides? It would be the apocalypse for the coastal cities. And yet, this is never addressed in the film. In fact, there are multiple scenes where Rhoda is on the coast, looking up at the second Earth looming above in the sky. And sure enough, the ocean is just chillin’. Same as always. If you don’t see the ending coming within the first 20 minutes of the film, you need to get your head checked. Not only is the ending incredibly predictable, but it’s handled in the laziest way possible. Rhoda essentially makes the ending possible with a few forced lines of dialogue. She basically says, “Hey, so I heard a theory today”, and said theory winds up being the explanation for the end of the film. All neatly summed up in 20 seconds of dialogue. It isn’t quite deus ex machina, but close enough that I was legitimately angered by the ending of the movie.
Fine, so the plot makes no sense. As long as the poetry is profound and the themes being addressed are handled in a thought-provoking way, the movie should still be enjoyable. The problem is…I’m not even sure what the filmmakers are trying to make me think about. I mean, the main characters falling in love is not convincing at all. They just sort of start banging. The focus of the film should be on the fact that there is another fucking Earth quickly approaching (it is the name of the movie after all). But the science fiction elements are lame as hell to anybody that has knowledge of the genre. Not only that, but the other Earth takes the backseat a third of the way through the film, when it should be the driver for the entire duration. At its core, the story is about feeling lonely in a very, very big place. This is a theme I absolutely love to see explored within film, but the set-up is just too ridiculous for me to appreciate any of the topics at hand. Handled by a different set of screenwriters, I feel like the film could have had huge potential. There are some beautiful cinematography sequences over the course of the film, which is really its only saving grace. Other than that, there isn’t much to enjoy here.
The film proposes an interesting question, but fails in its execution. It’s boring, it’s overly artsy, and its characters have no believability. Nearly everything about the film just pissed me off to no end. Easily one of the worst films I’ve seen in a theater in quite some time.