From almost of out nowhere comes Another Earth, the directorial debut from Mike Cahill who creates a striking and revealing science fiction tale about two people whose worlds collide after a tragic accident. Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities.
Produced for a measly $200,000 in Cahill’s hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, the film stars Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice) and William Mapother (TV’s “Lost,” World Trade Center). Despite its modest budget, Another Earth relies strongly on story and less on special effects. The most striking visual is the sight of Earth 2 which glows in the sky above.
Another Earth progresses with the same speed as Solaris, Gattaca or 2001, and comes with a lot of emphasis on character development, which required strong skills from both Mapother and Marling. Even though Marling is relatively new to the scene, she does a fantastic job with Rhoda Williams, showing great remorse and care as she takes Rhoda though a tangled web of deception and lies to free her soul from the pain of her mistakes. Mapother, who is mostly known for his large collection of bit parts in television shows, uses his skills learned from World trade Center and Born On The Fourth Of July to aid the weathered and extremely tired John Burroughs through a new relationship with Rhoda.
Another Earth was a joy to watch, but a little more development on the actual discoveries and mystique of Earth 2 would have given the film the push it needed to go from indie to must-see. The science fiction elements took a back seat and mostly served as scenery for the more complex story involving Rhoda and John. Cahill has directed a strong film with stunning imagery (at times) and a touch of sci-fi magic. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.