On the day that a mirror planet to Earth is discovered in the heavens, a drunk student crashes her car into another occupied by a family of three. The mother and child are killed.
Four years later Rhoda (Brit Marling) is released from prison. The new planet in the sky is bigger and brighter. Scientists are locked in argument over whether Earth 2 is really a duplicate of our own. Meanwhile Rhoda, drenched in guilt, seeks out the man whose life she ruined.
Soon she has called on the man, a former concert pianist living in isolation in a house cluttered with trash. She claims to be a cleaner, and convinces him to hire her. Times goes by. Their relationship, built week by week, grows stronger. A wary friendship blossoms. And all the while the issue of the doppelganger planet rages on TV.
Another Earth could be the most unusual film of the year. It is certainly a head-scratcher and gives profound opportunities to Marling and William Mapother as John Burroughs, the man from whom she took everything.
It’s a film about loneliness and isolation – through grief, through guilt, through a fascination with what lies beyond the boundaries of our existence. The victim is slowly rejuvenated by the perpetrator – the very person who snatched away happiness and contentment. Will the truth filter out? And if so, when?
Mike Cahill’s peculiar drama is as much about sci-fact as it is recrimination, anger, bitterness and the will to do the right thing. Marling vacillates between wanting a confrontation with her nemesis and maintaining a veneer of lies. Mapother emerges blinking from a shell of grief like a caged man crawling into sunlight. The climax, when it comes, is worth the wait.
And the significance of Earth 2? Scientists, commentators, TV pundits and Average Joe all wonder at the potential for the mirror planet. Who lives there? Are they like us? Or are they totally us – living the same lives, with the same feelings, emotions, experiences, but on a far-off world?
Could a friendship built on deceit grow into something better on a new world? And could the guilty and grieving be given a second chance?
These are the questions thrown up by Another Earth – a wholly original American indie with a central romance borne of cautious chemistry and two terrific central performances from Mapother and Marling.
On limited release