I miss The OA. Everyone who ever watched The OA misses The OA. Is the fact that Brit Marling is in a movie enough reason to watch it? Perhaps only those who mourn the loss of Prairie and Homer and good old Phyllis Smith as BBA will ever understand. And you know what? It turned out to be a semi-decent choice.
Another Earth is the directorial debut from Mike Cahill and is a stylised, muted, independent science fiction film about the sudden appearance of ‘another Earth’ that one day shows itself in the sky. Hence the title. Marling plays the lead character of Rhoda, who has always dreamed of becoming an astronomer but has spent the past few years in prison for an accidental yet horrific crime. When she is released, this ‘new’ second Earth is the talk of the town, and she can’t believe her luck when it is announced that one lucky human will be picked to be the first person to visit this apparent clone of the blue planet. Along the way however, she meets widower John, who has no idea that the pair of them are connected in ways that he would have never imagined.
A film made on what seems like a shoestring budget, Another Earth has an almost homemade quality to it that it completely takes in its stride and uses as a benefit rather than a hindrance. (After viewing, I found out that this movie was made for a mere $100,000, so my budget suspicions were correct.) From the often shaky camerawork to the grainy visuals, I absolutely fell in love with its cinematography, and some of the shots achieved here are simply marvellous, with such depth and perfect framing that you’d have no idea that it wasn’t a heavily funded piece of filmmaking.
What’s so good here is that it doesn’t beat around the bush – the narrative is fast-paced in that there’s no waiting to throw you in at the deep end. The only issue is that it’s often difficult to figure out what direction the film is going in; is this about the discovery a second Earth or is it about the main character’s guilt and PTSD after being involved in a traumatic event? It’s mysterious and intense, I’ll give it that, but it won’t be for everyone.
Marling is quite evidently the star of the show here, giving a solid performance that shines above the rest of them. Her “romantic” interest though? Kind of wooden and often not believable. Without Marling there’s no way I’d have enjoyed this as much as I did, but even then it’s a pretty cool concept.
When it finally comes round to the ending, it blew me away. It’s not so much a ‘plot twist’ as it is something you should have seen coming all along. Despite that, be prepared for your jaw to hit the floor regardless, and then ask yourself “why didn’t I expect this the whole time?” It’s the only way the film could end really, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant when it unfolds. Don’t take my word for it though – I have to be vague here otherwise I’ll ruin it for everyone.
Overall, this movie was more about human emotion than I expected, and much less fantasy-filled. However, it’s very well done with a strong leading performance from our fallen Original Angel. Just don’t watch it if you’re feeling depressed in any way.
Another Earth is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.
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Overall Rating: ½