Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Another Earth" may or may not be "real"

I like movies about other worlds, but Mike Cahill’s “Another Earth”, from Fox Searchlight, seems a bit like a gimmick.

On the night of media reports of the appearance of a habitable planet approaching our solar system, a young woman Rhoda (Brit Marling) has a tragic auto accident involving the family of a middle aged modern composer John (William Mapother). She is sent to jail for four years for involuntary manslaughter (probably DWI), apparently, and seems to be in an understandable daze when she gets out and wanders the streets of New Haven, CT, which I recently visited myself (Yale music conservatory is there).

She gets “low work” jobs as a janitor and with a cleaning service, and pretty soon is working in the home of the composer, drawing closer to him as if she did not remember who he is. There are some interesting bits of music, including one where a violin bow plays a saw, getting bizarre quarter tone effects that remind one of Gerard Grisey (drama blog, Dec. 9, 2010).

The “Other Earth” seems to get bigger in the sky, next to the Moon. Rhoda enters an Internet essay contest to win a flight to the planet.  She makes the interesting point that in history colonists to new worlds were often outcasts, even ex-cons.  The day for her “flight” approaches and soon we find out there is a rather obvious twist. It’s really rather predictable.  We’ve seen this before, in films like “Wristcutters”. 

The film, however, does pose an ethical, philosophical question. Can you ever get another chance? Can you undo-redo what you have done? The Time Arrow of physics says, No.  In a split second, the entire rest of your life can be changed. On "Another Earth", maybe it's possible, to get another chance.  But you may have to face your own doppleganger. 

The official site for the film is here.

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