Sunday, July 10, 2011
One of the big winners at the Sundance Film Festival was "Another Earth" receiving the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, for the film that best portrays a sci-fi story. The film continues in what I refer to as the resurgence of the sci-fi genre, following recent sci-fi films such as "the Adjustment Bureau", "Limitless", and "Source Code".
"Another Earth" has the feel of a big blockbuster wrapped up tightly as an indie film from first time writer/director Mike Cahill and Brit Marling who doubles as the writer and lead protagonist (Rhoda). The film is about second chances and the relationships we have with others. No matter how important those relationships are it is the intense internal relationship we carry on with ourselves on a daily basis. We look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning or talk to ourselves during our daily commute; and it is during these moments that we are at our most honest. The element of sci-fi provides the canvas for the story with the impossible element of another planet entering the orbit and upon first contact the realization that a mirror image of ourselves is on what has been termed "Earth 2".
The story follows Rhoda first as we are introduced to her four years ago as a reckless teen who is distracted by the first appearance of Earth 2 while driving home at night. Her life is thrust into that of John Burroughs (William Mapother from "Lost") when her vehicle crashes into the Burroughs family killing all but John. The story then jumps forward four years upon her release from prison when Earth 2 and first contact. Rhoda holds deep guilt for her past and had difficulties in communicating with her family and find employment as a janitor at the school. The cleansing of her own past also leads her back to John where she confronts him, but cowardly deceives his trust. She thinks she can make him happy, but wonders if doing so would be a selfish act. In the ultimate cliche of running away from reality is Rhoda who enters a contest to be one of the first to visit Earth 2.
One of the quietly impressive performances comes from Kumar Pallana (Purdeep) who is also a janitor with Rhoda. He provides almost a spiritual guidance to Rhoda as she deals with her adjustment. Purdeep is dealing with his own past upon the emergence of Earth 2 and in an act of avoidance takes away his senses. In a beautifully touching moment between Purdeep and Rhoda the strength of their mutual respect is shown in her forgiveness and understanding.
I was absolutely blown away by this film and cannot speak highly enough about it. The film is amazingly written, acted and directed. During the lull of summer blockbusters "Another Earth" stands out as yet another award nominee receiving the full 5 Quacks. I hope for a nomination for the script, best actress, at the very least.
(screening date 7/10/11, release date 7/20/11, location AMC Loews Georgetown 14)