is an unusual hybrid of existential rumination on life choices, mind-bending sci-fi supposition, and challenging indie art film that moves at a pace that is often maddeningly oblique. Based on the marketing campaign, which plays up the science-fiction angle and special effects (of which there are very few, consisting mainly of offhand composite shots), the movie seems to be trawling for an audience that may be sorely disappointed by all the roundabout and often repetitive philosophically conceptual ideas that are hard to follow. That's not to say that Another Earth
isn't rich in ideas or absorbing in its own right as a meditation on how specific moments play out and affect the cascade of alternatives that follow in their wake. Using broadly impressionistic and experimental strokes, the story follows the disjointed meanderings of 17-year-old Rhoda, who causes a tragic accident while driving drunk after celebrating her acceptance into college. The collision happens when she becomes distracted by the mesmerising planetary image glowing above her car's moon roof, which has just been identified as an exact duplicate of Earth. After four years of incarceration, she continues to suffer terrible remorse and tries to find a way to make peace with herself and the older man whose life and family she all but destroyed, and who is now crippled by depression. Her initial self-imposed penance is to adopt the role of an anonymous maid who comes to clean his decrepit house every week. As precious few details are added to their individual and mutual evolution and motivation, the constant of the alternate Earth, which has been steadily moving closer (along with its mirror-image Moon), hovers in the day and night sky, gazed upon with wonder and a growing idea that maybe it represents the redemption Rhoda can't find on her own. A corporate contest that will allow an ordinary citizen to make a shuttle trip to Earth 2 (or is it Earth 1?) becomes the catalyst for her belief that she can fundamentally alter both their lives for the better, but the movie never shows its hand in how or if this might work. Another Earth
is another of those high-minded indie dramas that relies a little too heavily on rambling structure, shaky handheld digital camera, and arty shots of things like the play of light, clouds, and swirling dust motes to convey the corners of its characters' sometimes fascinating, sometimes inscrutable souls. Much has been made of the film's final shot, which is truly stunning in its unexpectedness and implications. But what those implications are will be cause for unending debate among viewers, many of who may never be able to come up with a satisfying answer. --Ted Fry
In Another Earth
, Rhoda Williams (Marling), a bright young woman accepted into MIT's astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John Burroughs (Mapother), has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined.