What follows is an exercise in capsule writing, but before that I just wanted to add a quick complaint. The part that bothers me most about the movie is the problem of gravity. I am versed in neither physics nor astronomy, yet I am pretty sure that if a planet identical to Earth appeared within viewing distance of a consumer grade telescope, then the folks on either planet would start walking on air just before drowning in the rising tides.
Still, in spite of gravity, inconsistent lighting, and the fact that so many better movies on grief have been made, including one with William Mapother (In the Bedroom), I find myself rooting for this little film, maybe because this marks my first (and probably last) press screening, or maybe because I’m a sucker for these doppelgänger-type movies.
In Mike Cahill’s Another Earth the discovery of a planet identical to Earth in every way, including its inhabitants, offers the hope for a second chance. While the planet itself remains predominantly a spectral figure that is both haunting and full of possibilities, most of the story is terrestrially based in the lives of the two lead characters. Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) tries to make amends for a tragic incidence, for which she was responsible, by befriending the grieving victim, John Burroughs (William Mapother). Another Earth is strongest when it is exploring the relationship between guilt, grief, and forgiveness, and the choice to keep the science fiction elements to a minimum works to its advantage. However, the movie suffers from exposition based on awkward dialog and coincidental timing of radio and television broadcasts, and some scenes played for emotional impact don’t connect (in particular a hospital scene between Brit Marling and Kumar Pallana).