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Sundance 2011 Review: ANOTHER EARTH

Movie Review Sundance by Joey Paur

Another Earth is the only sci-fi type film that was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival this year, and it really wasn’t even a full on sci-fi film. It was a dramatic story that we’ve seen several times before, but this one had an interesting little sci-fi backdrop to it, which just added another layer to the film. That backdrop includes another earth.

The story follows a character named Rhoda Williams. At the beginning of the film she is accepted into MIT to study astrophysics, but she never gets there. On the same night that a new Earth like planet is discovered, she is driving home from a party drunk, and while looking at the new blue planet she smashes head first into a car killing a pregnant wife, a child, and putting the father/husband John into a coma. After four years of being in prison Rhoda is released. Her dreams of going to MIT are gone, the new Earth that was discovered four year prior is still being studied, and the space program is looking to send people to it. Rhoda gets a job as a janitor at the local high school, and one day she sets out on a journey to find John so she could apologize to him for killing his family. Once she’s face to face with him she chickens out and makes up a lie. She ends up cleaning his house, and they form a relationship with each other that breaths life back into their souls. As far as this other Earth is concerned, we learn bits and pieces about it as the movie goes on, and it’s revealed that it’s a mirror image of our own planet which includes mirror images of ourselves that are living the same life and same experiences that we are. It’s quite an interesting concept. There comes a point in the story where John and Rhoda are confronted with a decision with the opportunity to travel to Earth 2. One main thing I didn't buy in on was where did the new Earth Come from. It's explained that it was knocked off its hidden orbit and emerged from behind the Sun.

First time feature film director Mike Cahill did a good job created the film which stars William Mapother and Brit Marling, who both gave decent performances. The movie got mixed reviews up at the film festival, but I thought it was actually pretty good. There are some deep philosophical questions that are brought up in the movie, and it definitely gives you something to think about. 

I would have liked to see the film focus more on the new Earth. That was an element of the film I feel I didn’t get enough information on. I think the filmmaker should have taken the film into full sci-fi mode, but he didn't, it seemed more passive. The ending of the film was pretty cool though. I won’t spoil anything for you, but there’s a little thought that has to go into it so you can figure out what it means.

The movie wasn’t great, and I probably wouldn’t pay to see it in theaters. This is something I would probably wait to watch on Instant Netflix. But it’s worth your time to check out when you can.  

Here’s the synopsis for the film:

Rhoda Williams, a bright young woman recently accepted into MIT's astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. John Burroughs, a brilliant composer, has just reached the pinnacle of his profession, and is about to have a second child with his loving wife. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes, and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined. Estranged from the world and the selves they once knew, the two outsiders begin an unlikely love affair, which reawakens them to life. But when one of them is presented with the opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternative reality, which new life will they choose?

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