Overlooked Film of the Week-#22
What would you do to right a wrong, how far would you go to make something up to someone else? Have you ever felt an unbearable pain due to guilt? What you would you do to get rid of that guilt and help the person you wronged at the same time? These are the questions raised during the unforgettable "Another Earth," one of 2011's many gems that I felt went underrated.
"Another Earth" follows Rhoda Williams (Brit Starling), a brilliant 17 year-old who just got accepted into college as the film starts. She drinks and parties with her friends to celebrate who newfound future. At the end of the night, while driving home intoxicated, she turns on her radio and a radio show host is discussing the mysterious star found in the sky. Rhoda looks up into the night sky, trying to find this bizarre, new star in the sky. Then she hits a car and kills a mother, a child and nearly the father. Because Rhoda is a minor, her identity is not revealed to John (William Mapother), the father whose family was taken from him in the accident. Four years later, Brit has served a prison sentence and has lost her friends, college acceptance and morale. She becomes a janitor at the local high school, and also begins to work as John's personal cleaning lady, in hopes to reveal the truth and apologize. Also when she gets released, she learns that the mysterious star is actually a parallel Earth in the sky. And an essay contest to visit "Earth 2" is underway, Rhoda sees that as new start to her life, so she enters the contest.
The genius behind "Another Earth" is that it doesn't devolve into an overblown "Twilight Zone" episode. There is also no big action finish or anything that parallels today's politics. This is just a smart story that makes you think. I also love that I could never figure out this film's budget. The special effects that created the second Earth in the sky are utterly transcendent. Absolutely looking very real and grounded. I think the ending definitely compliments the rest of the film, but it killed me that it ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Even though, I admit, it killed me in the best way. "Another Earth" engages you on so many levels that it is hard not to like it.
The work by Mapother and Starling is the glue to the entire movie. How their relationship changes over the entire movie is handled with intelligence and written in a thoughtful, slow manner. At first, John finds Rhoda to be a nuisance, then gradually begins to enjoy her company. He finds comfort in another person because John has been a sad hermit for the four years Rhoda was in prison. As they begin to become friends it becomes hard for Rhoda to apologize. The actors do great work and I can't wait to see them act again. Starling in particular is quite the discovery.
I'd say check this one out, you'll be glad you did.