Last year I saw Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. While I cannot deny that it held some great performances and certainly some beautiful cinematography I found the film as a whole far too self-involved and slow to be truly engaging – it definitely slipped off the edge of enjoyable. However at that time somebody recommended to me Another Earth as “the lower budget but better version of Melancholia”. Intrigued, I finally found a copy of this film one year later.
Certainly the premise is similar. A planet slowly approaches earth, getting bigger and bigger in the sky and causing not a small amount of scientific curiosity and widespread panic. (Both films share a flagrant disregard of gravity and the knock on effects upon the earth’s orbit, which would most likely kill everyone on earth before our protagonists could even eat their morning bacon.) However this is where the similarities end.
What we have in Another Earth is a gem of the Indie-Sci-Fi-Psychological-Drama genre. While the cosmic events are a key plot device, the story is one of human nature and kindness beautifully realized by director and co-writer Mike Cahill. Leading actress and co-writer of this spectacle, Brit Marling brings Rhoda, our protagonist, to life with grace and sensitivity when the character could so easily have become whiny, unsympathetic and, in places, abhorrent.
The bold soundtrack (provided by Fall On Your Sword) lends pace to the slow, thoughtful film; the humming techno music becomes a reflection of the rising tensions between characters. The delicate naturalism of light and angle in the cinematography is counterbalanced by this electronic heartbeat underscoring the film.
All in all a pleasure to watch, elegant and sophisticated but with a lot more substance than you’d first expect.