Sunday, March 25, 2012
Underrated Showcase Sundays: Another Earth
Underrated Showcase Sundays is a pretty straight-forward: every Sunday I'll shed some light on a film which I think doesn't get enough love. The showcase will be largely unstructured (well, compared to my other reviews) and will often just be random thoughts. It doesn't matter if I've seen it before or not. Tonight's instalment is one which I had never seen until this weekend, thanks to Fatso.
Admit it, you've probably sat there at least once in your life and wondered about the Earth not being entirely what it seems. You probably look out into the night sky and wonder if there is life beyond Earth. Usually, you'd think that life is some sort of extra-terrestrial race. Another Earth doesn't think so. It begins by showing a young woman, Rhoda (Brit Marling) at a party celebrating her acceptance into MIT. She drives home, and as she does so, there is an announcement on the radio that scientists have found another Earth. This is one of those moments where you know exactly where you were when you found out, but unfortunately for Rhoda, what she'll remember is the fact that she caused a car crash, where two people lost their lives. She spends four years in jail, and when she gets out, she seeks closure, by connecting with the accomplished composer (William Mapother) she almost killed and entering a competition to win a trip to the duplicate Earth.
When I went into Another Earth, I was expecting it to be all about the duplicate Earth and the connections between them. I got something very different. The film is about a slog of things: second chances, forgiveness, making people happy, regrets...but it is all dressed up in the typical indie damper that is more about subtlety than anything else. It is actually a bizarre film with a lot of contrasting sensibilities: the direction goes for more of a style over substance veneer, while the story is at first glance a very simple one. The characters don't say much. It is one of those existential observations, curiously filled up with the protagonist walking around in slow-motion glancing up at an imaginary slideshow detailing the meaning of life. Sure, there are more exciting ways you could spend your Saturday morning, but I was deeply moved by Another Earth. At risk of sounding clichéd, it really does say a lot by saying so little. It is quite unnerving at times.
With the script that I'm semi-writing at the moment, I know that there is a more exciting story that could be told, but I've chosen to let the least exciting strain shine. That's what happens in Another Earth. Sure, there is a more exciting story about the duplicate Earth and how it relates back to the first one - which could become like a sci-fi version of The Double Life of Veronique - but they only choose to show that at the very end. Instead, they tell a story where the two Earth's are only a minor facet of Rhoda's lives. It presents a gateway to something different, instead of a strong plot problem. The more 'exciting' story probably wouldn't have translated so well to the screen, but the story they did chose couldn't have been more exciting for me.
I do have to give a shout out to Brit Marling, though. Hopefully her career sky-rockets after this. She co-wrote this film, as she has with some of her other films, and she's also taken the director duty once. It isn't often that you see such a pretty young girl like her taking on those multiple roles, but she does, and she's bloody talented. I'm gonna go follow her every move, now...
What I got: