Monday, November 10, 2014

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Another Earth

2011, Mike Cahill -- Netflix

As I was saying, it was this film that Kent professed his fondness for the "low-budget, dramatic science fiction" sort of movie. The science fiction of this movie is the wrap around premise of the movie, less science and entirely fictional, which involves a second planet earth appearing in the night sky on an intercept course with us. Interestingly enough, it was one of two "second planet Earth" movies that showed up that year, the second being Melancholia, with Kirsten Dunst. When I say "wrap around premise" I mean that it plays a significant part in the plot, as in it constantly plays a part in the movie, but it is not the focus of the movie. The focus of the movie is the dramatic, the interaction between the two main characters. That is what the movie is about while the second planet is the impetus of their interaction.

Rhoda was a teen with everything ahead of her on her way to MIT, when the new planet appeared in the sky. Distracted by this, the invulnerability of youth and alcohol, she slammed into John Burroughs car killing his wife and daughter. Years later she is paroled, moves in with her parents and is understandably obsessed with her accident. Everyone else is obsessed with the planet in the sky, which has proven itself to be exactly the same as our Earth, continents and all. She seeks Burroughs out, pretending to be a cleaner, and begins a rather strange relationship with him based on deception and a desire to do penance. Both are entirely damaged by the events she orchestrated. Or perhaps, the planet above orchestrated?

The TV constantly talks to people about the implications of a second, replica planet Earth. Metaphysics aside, people discuss how different it could be. Or more precisely, how similar it could not be. As the planet gets closer, this is frustratingly the only topic discussed by those pondering the planet. No one is talking about the danger it could cause as it comes into our orbit, what it could do to the moon or our own gravitational forces. These are conveniently ignored so that our planet can decide to travel to their planet, without all the complications of ... physics. The questions of shared destiny, perhaps having diverged on that fateful night when she first appeared, come into clarity for Rhoda who hopes that over there is a planet where she did not kill Burroughs' family. And she sacrifices her contest won seat on a shuttle heading there. The movie ends in a brief, mysterious, abrupt confrontation between Rhoda and ... Rhoda. And we are left to interpret.

Of late I am wondering, after relating what I saw in the movie, do I have to say what I thought about the movie. I don't often seed the movie "review" with the obvious details of how I felt about it, as that tone should become apparent in the words I use and my descriptions. Bland, toneless re-telling should impart a certain amount of blasé viewing. The more fervent my statements, the more I thought of the movie. Stated obviously, I liked this movie and how it was done but it didn't leave an entirely indelible mark on me. It was well done, composed and understated but eventually forgettable for me. And in saying something so obvious, I feel I have devalued my viewing. I should save those statements for love and hate. In between allows for more pondering, more interpretation.