Debut director Mike Cahill’s brooding indie Another Earth imagines not just another planet capable of housing human life but another planet on which humans irrefutably live. It doesn’t stop there: on this planet, which has recently appeared in the sky, another version of every person on Earth exists. Another you, another me. A population of doppelgangers.
It’s a great idea for a SCI-FI, but if you watch Another Earth because the premise sounded interesting you will leave violently disappointed. It is as much a science fiction film as Toy Story 3 is a documentary. The out-of-this-world idea floats nebulously in the background, gaffer-tapped to a morose drama about a young woman (Brit Marling) who kills a man’s wife and child in a car accident. Some years later, to try and alleviate her guilt, she arrives at the man’s house and, implausibly, becomes his cleaner.
Cahill aims for a lot, vastly over-reaches and reveals no justification for wedding a sombre drama to the film’s core selling point, likely an attempt at existential rumination. The actors do a good job connecting the dramatic dots and making foibles in their personality resonate but there is lots of looks of yearning, lots of forlorn glances, and their predicaments feel too contrived and pre-configured to resonate.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Another Earth reeks of a first time filmmaker throwing everything they have onto the screen and hoping something sticks: broken relationships to be mended, close proximity acting shot through handheld cameras, an airy out-there concept. Most of Cahill’s ideas remain unfulfilled, despite last minute shoe horns and a closing shot that transparently attempts to compel audiences to Think About It without offering any substance.