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“Another Earth” (2011) Review

When I say science fiction, what do you think of? Do you think of spaceships and far away universes? Or maybe movies with huge budgets and massive scopes? Maybe you just think of futuristic technology and extraterrestrial beings. But, I am sure very few, if any, think of modern day Earth and the tragedy in the decisions its inhabitants make. “Another Earth” takes this focus and paints a wonderful story with a backdrop of a new planet discovery, and in turn gives the viewer a lesson in how science fiction can become less about the extraterrestrial, advanced technology, and space travel, and more about how tragedy affects ordinary people and what it is to be oneself.

The plot itself is able to be introspective, emotional, and captivating, all while keeping you wondering what will happen next. Rhoda is a teenage girl whose guilt put’s a burden on the viewer, while John’s suffering can truly be felt. The interactions between the two feel completely real, while the interactions Rhoda has with the rest of the world bring us deeper into her promising-turned-tragic life. While the characters themselves fuel the story, the science fiction backdrop does much to further enhance the overall plot. At first, it may seem that the story about the “other Earth” is merely a parallel story to the main characters’ lives. However, as the film progresses, the two slowly intertwine and become one, with the “other Earth” story enhancing the main plot and acting symbolic as well. I will not spoil any plot details (as per my usual spoiler-free reviews), but here is an example of an open-ended ending done right. I did not expect it, yet when the film was over, I couldn’t think of a more fitting closure.

Though the plot itself was well designed, it could not have succeeded without a great performance from its lead, Brit Marling. She does more than just act the role, however. Through her performance, she seems to become Rhoda, bringing the character to life and making every part of her role feel fully believable; all the guilt and emotion feels real. There is a point at which Rhoda gives a monologue on a Russian cosmonaut – it is absolutely perfect.

“Another Earth” features many beautiful shots of Earth 2, a planet that becomes slowly entwined with the fates of our two main characters.

This particular scene is helped by some great sound design. The soundtrack itself is composed to nicely fit each section of the film. The sections on John have an appropriate classical approach, while the philosophical “other Earth” sections feature electronic, industrial undertones. The aforementioned monologue has a beautifully progressing sound design, where a knock slowly builds into something much more, capturing the story being told perfectly.

Adding to all of these pieces is some wonderful cinematography, full of intimate shots depicting each character’s emotional/mental state, and some evolving and recurring shots of the “Earth 2”. It may lack high-budget CGI and other such eye candy, but it more than makes up for it with its wonderfully filmed shots of Rhoda and “Earth 2” along with the slowly evolving story through the media of the other Earth.

Overall, “Another Earth” is an enthralling sci-fi drama, light on the over-the-top effects, and heavy on the plot and characters. There is one side-story I wish was explored a little deeper, but the film is easily one of the best sci-fi films I’ve ever seen. For any fan of sci-fi or drama, “Another Earth” is a wonderful film that will give you a new perspective on the sci-fi genre.

Final Score: 9.4/10


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