You’ve got a great idea. It’s simple, clean and visually appealing- perfect for the cinematic medium. You’ve got to build a story around that idea and, if the money’s right, that’s not a problem. So here’s where we hit our snag with Another Earth, the money ain’t there. So the first thing to suffer is the scale of the movie, condensing it to a few simple locations, a few simple characters and an insular storyline that belies the celestial events that are the real attraction. It’s a wonder therefore, that the film is as effective as it is when the main events are always played slightly out of frame.
There are plenty of problems. The production design is not all there and the references to the ‘Earth 2’ flight programme are frankly silly (as is the Aussie voice on the end of the phone). Cinematographically there’s some awkward framing (beyond the, now traditional, mumblecore hatred of classic framing) and the film looks extremely over exposed in places, although that is likely to be an intentional, if misplaced, choice. The acting is generally good, omitting the occasional clunky line and clunky sex scene, and that’s important for a film that is asking you to focus your entire attention on a couple of, not particularly likeable characters, rather than the fact there’s another freakin’ Earth just appeared in the sky.
Where the film gets it right it’s very effective. Gorgeous, panoramic 60 fps shots of Brit Marling framed by the sea and the other earth are, almost literally, out of this world. The frustrated anxiety of the central character, wracked with an unspeakable guilt, is pit-of-your-stomach stuff for us as an audience. We watch her (almost) forget the terrible mistake she made and then we watch as these threads slowly unravel, precisely as the prospect of the other earth becomes more and more alluring. It’s a dangerously small-scale film but, as concept films go, the gamble largely pays off.
A wonderful idea brought together for next to nothing, Mike Cahill’s Sundance hit is both flawed and fascinating. Worth watching.
|Starring:||Brit Marling, Ethan from Lost (William Mapother apparently...)|
|Running Time:||Indie Short (90 mins)|