Another Earth is by far the biggest surprise at the cinema this year. Its blend of quiet emotion and heartfelt performances, along with a solid underlying sci-fi story, haunted me for weeks after seeing it and put it high on my list as one of the best films of the year.
Rhoda (Brit Marling) is a carefree high school grad who has been accepted into MIT. The night she goes out celebrating her accomplishment a second Earth appears in the sky. Mesmerized by it, and having had one too many drinks, she runs into another car killing a child and his mother, and badly injures the father.
Skip ahead four years and Rhoda is being released from prison. Her once bright future is now shattered, and her mind is still pondering what or who lives on “Earth 2”. She takes a job as a janitor at her former high school and attempts to get on with her life.
One night she spots the man (played by William Mapother) whose family she killed and approaches him to apologize but ends up wanting to take care of him instead. She tells him she’s with a maid service and begins to clean his house once a week. Over time, the two become friends and soon the truth about their past must come out.
Marling, who also co-wrote the film, is a beautiful and sincere actress. Her performance is raw and powerful, and she carries the film flawlessly. Like Jennifer Lawrence in last year’s Winter’s Bone, Marling deserves an Oscar nomination for her work here. She is everything a young actress should aspire to be onscreen and will no doubt have a long career full of accolades if she doesn’t try to conform to the Hollywood system.
What really makes the film so meaningful and holds it all together is the direction by Mike Cahill. On the surface it might come across as amateurish, but everything has a purpose and the style perfectly aligns with the message. Pay close enough attention and you’ll notice the colours change, the importance of the music, and how the camera will make you feel anxious or calm at all the right moments. It’s genius and makes Cahill a director to watch.
Go experience Another Earth for yourself and let it stay with you before judging it. You might agree it’s one of the best films of the year.
Another Earth opens in Toronto on July 29, Vancouver on August 5, Calgary and Edmonton on August 12, Ottawa and Victoria on August 19, and Halifax and Winnipeg on August 26.
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother
Directed by: Mike Cahill
Top image: A scene from Another Earth. Courtesy Fox Searchlight.