Written by David Campos (@magicdave1983)
One night, we look up at the night sky and see the moon and stars. The following night we look up at the night sky and see the moon, stars, and a duplicate earth. If you’re a comic book nerd, the DC Multiverse comes to mind with all explanations behind its creation given to us in a few pages. In our real world and in the grand scheme of universal creation, we may never understand the logical physics behind a phenomenon of that magnitude. This is exactly what happens in the 2011 sci-fi drama Another Earth. The film, which was an indie hit at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), a recently accepted student to MIT. After a night of partying and drinking to celebrate her achievements, she drives home and peers out the window to see the twinkling blue of the new earth that has been recently been discovered. That is the moment in which she crashes and claims the life of a mother and child, leaving composer John Burroughs (William Mapother) widowed and herself with a one-way ticket to prison.
With 4 years lost to one fateful decision, Rhoda, now mentally scarred, is released and left uncertain as to what to do with her life. Despite the pain, she decides to start by seeking out John Burroughs and apologize for what she has done. Unable to find the direct courage upon meeting him, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined in unimaginable ways, all while the truth remains unknown to John. Now you may wonder how the other Earth, or Earth-2 as it’s dubbed, plays its part. One of the more sci-fi scenes shows our earth making radio contact with Earth-2, and revealing that there are duplicates of ourselves on the replicated planet. That’s when the deeper questions emerge. What is my duplicate like? Did they make the same decisions? Did they suffer the same mistakes? What if we met? What would my duplicate think of me?
These questions are part of the emotional and psychological tug-of-war Rhoda faces within herself. Will she confront herself, confess to John, and find redemption, or will she choose to runaway to Earth-2, a chance she actually has! First time director Mike Cahill really brings the intimacy and soul searching of Rhoda with raw, hand-held shots and zooms rather than conventional editing cuts. Brit Marling, who co-wrote the script with Cahill, shows promising acting depth in her role as Rhoda, which can make her an indie actress to watch in the coming years. Overall, the sci-fi impact of Another Earth is minimal, while it is the actual emotional drama that takes center stage. Earth-2 is more of a metaphoric tool that allows us to reflect on ourselves and reveal who we really are. While there are some unnecessary plot holes, the film is truly unique and does warrant a chance to be watched. You will be thinking about it afterwards, especially the heart-stopping final shot.