In a moment of distraction Rhoda did a terrible thing. Something that she would never be able to take back, never be able to forgive herself for. Looking up from her car window at the sky she hits another car, killing a man’s wife and child. Her life is changed and she can never go back, leaving her with a new life defined by her guilt. Leaving her to always wonder, what if she hadn’t done it? What would her world be like? And from there this small indie film about guilt and loss crosses genres with sci-fi: A new Earth appears in the sky, the same as ours until the moment it was visible. In Rhoda’s case this is the moment of the accident.
I loved this film.
I found the pace and tone hypnotising, the frosty landscapes are beautiful and Brit Marling’s performance is outstanding as the broken Rhoda. This film is very introspective, which I always love, many scenes just showing Rhoda sitting alone in her bedroom. ‘Earth 2’, as they call it in the film, externalises Rhoda’s thoughts though. Every time we see her staring up at the planet we know exactly what questions she is asking.
This is Mike Cahill’s first feature film, which he co-wrote with Marling. The film was shot with a tiny budget of $150,000, the two deciding they wanted to make a film completely on their own terms. Rhoda’s house in the film is Cahill’s family home and Marling often did make-up touch ups for the other characters between takes. The scene where Rhoda leaves the jail was shot by Brit Marling posing as a Yoga Instructor in order to enter and exit the jail. The stunning shots of the second earth hovering in the sky seem impossible on this kind of budget, but even they were created by Cahill independently. Wow!
The only times I felt very aware that I was watching a first film was the shots of dust lit up by the sun as they floated in the air. I can’t count how many short student films I have seen that have included this shot. Also the trailer ruins this film from beginning to end so I wouldn’t recommend watching it if you haven’t seen the film yet.
If you have seen it check out this slamming of a New Yorker reviewer, as well as an interesting discussion on the last scene.
‘Another Earth’ is out of the cinema’s now, but coming out on DVD next week. This film is definitely an inspiration for all young filmmakers.