Monday, 7 November 2011

Another Earth

Watching Another Earth was like watching something bigger than myself. I was surprised by how encapsulated by the idea I was. This blog entry may have spoilers so those who have not yet seen it but wish to should stray away.

The film centers around this young girl (Rhoda Williams), who we see at the start of the film make a drunken mistake that she would carry around with her for years to come. She drives inebriated, and gets distracted by a radio broadcast revealing (for the first time) our discovery of a mysterious planet that randomly appeared in Earths' orbit. This planet resembles Earth a great deal, and would later be referred to as Earth 2. She crashes head on to a stopped car, killing instantly a pregnant wife, a son, and injuring an accomplished composer, College Professor and father (John Burroughs). Rhoda serves 4 years in jail due to being a minor at the time of the accident. When released, she tracks down where John lives intending to apologize, but she loses her cool last minute, and convinces him she works for a cleaning company that is offering a free trial in hopes that in doing so, she can begin to make amends. John, whose home looked as if a tornado had just rummaged through it, accepts the free trial. At the end of the day, he asks her to come back next week to finish cleaning his entire house for pay.

At the same time, Rhoda enters into a contest to win a trip to Earth 2. Other than the information about Rhoda getting a scholarship to MIT which is revealed at the beginning of the film, not much else about her character is disclosed. But fom the visual cues available, she seemed to obviously be an Astronomy/Physics/Sci-Fi enthusiast. Her academic and personal priorities change after getting out of the big house, and she begins making money by cleaning at a high school in her area. She is fascinated by the existence of another earth, and feels like the only way to escape what shes done is by leaving everything behind.

However, after spending time with John, she gets to know him, and feels strongly that she may be making his life a little better. The viewer witnesses John's demeanor and life slowly change for the better, paralleled by the increasing cleanliness of his home. On various occasions, she contemplates telling him the truth about who she is and what shes done, but something always holds her back. Instead, she distracts herself by continuing to clean his house while keeping him company. Their relationship gradually becomes more and more intimate, finally climaxing to them sleeping together. Feeling closer than ever to Rhoda, John reveals to her what had happened to him, and how much anger he has held with him over the past 4 years. He admits to making sure he never knew the drunk drivers identity in order to avoid a temptation to confront his family's killer.

Meanwhile, it is revealed that Earth 2 may be an exact replica of our Earth. The possibility of another you is proposed, and theories are thrown around. Soon, Rhoda learns that her essay was chosen, and that she has won a seat onto the ship to go to Earth 2. She tells the good news to John, but he asks her to stay admitting that he feels strongly for her and she is the reason he has been content with his life lately. Feeling guilty, she finally reveals to him who she is. Infuriated and hurt, John turns her away and tells her to never come back. Without giving away too much, Rhoda arrives at an epiphany regarding Earth 2 which she hopes could help John, and help her to survive what she has done to him.

Obviously there are some huge critiques in this film that I want to discuss. For example, not once is it mentioned how the hell the second Earth is not at all significantly disrupting the tides of our Earth, which would (in reality) lead to pretty devastating outcomes for our planet. It's also never explained how the planet just appeared in Earth's orbit out of thin air, taking residence right by the moon. But really, if you're expecting an astonishingly accurate Science Fiction film, then don't see this because these things will just piss you off. Having said that, it didn't bother me at all, because the film was centered around Rhoda and John's growing relationship and how the accident connected them and brought them together. Yes, Earth 2 was there but I would say it was just in the background, like a lingering piece of hope and mystery Rhoda held onto in case her attempts at bettering John's life did not pan out.

Another Earth is the exact definition of an independent film: Handheld camera work, long and appropriately placed close-ups, characters longingly staring off into space, lingering pauses, and a tiny cast with simple sets and wardrobes. But honestly, I thought it all worked. The movie was heart-felt, it was a fascinating and original (albeit impossibly improbable) Sci-Fi idea, and the acting was great. John (played by William Mapother) played a really intense and emotional part in a very understated way, which I think is really difficult to pull off. Despite having very little dialogue, I found myself quite tense and uncomfortably mesmerized by the plot and the characters. I admit it is a faulty Sci-Fi foundation for a movie, but if you actually try to get passed that and just take it for what it is, it will not only win you over, but will stay with you long after you stop watching it.

So yea...go watch it!

Todays Tea: Decaffeinated gunpowder green.


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