What would it be like if there were another Earth? Would the “you” on that planet be the same you on this planet? Would your life have been the same? These are all questions that the high concept film ANOTHER EARTH poses, but — sadly — never answers.
Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is a brainy young New Englander, recently accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program. Distracted (and drunk) while driving one night, she causes a terrible accident that kills the entire family of a celebrated music composer, John Burroughs (William Mapother) and leaves the man in a coma. The distraction is crucial as it sets up the film’s “B story.” She was gazing out her window at a blue object in space. It seems astronomers had just discovered another planet previously hidden behind the sun. During her four years in prison, further scientific inquiry reveals this planet is a duplicate Earth, and it’s growing closer. The possibility of a parallel reality is imminent.
If there is a bright spot in ANOTHER EARTH, it’s actress and co-writer Brit Marling’s phenomenal performance. Even when the scenes lag, she is what keeps you tethered to the story. Her character drives the film and she has a powerful screen presence. However, putting William Mapother (LOST) as the romantic male lead is a bit of a casting misfire. Where he is supposed to be soft, there’s a twinge of the sinister instead. There’s a scene in which John takes Rhoda to an empty auditorium and instead of playing the saw (yes, you read that right), I totally thought he was going to hack her up into tiny pieces with it (he did not).