Brit Marling is stunning in ANOTHER EARTH

It’s kind of puzzling to me that ANOTHER EARTH is billed as a science fiction/fantasy/drama. The story of Rhoda (Brit Marling), a young woman who kills a man’s wife and child in a car accident and then tries to atone for her mistake, is more like a quietly played drama set against a backdrop of space travel to a second, identical planet Earth. Still, it’s that backdrop as well as the film’s deftly handled inclusion of the complicated physics and math involved in the exciting multiuniverse theory that made it a shoe-in for the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance earlier this year. And all science aside, the muted way the film portrays the moral dilemma Rhoda is faced with made it an only all too worthy winner of the festival’s Special Jury Prize as well.

The pared-down dialogue, its hushed delivery as well as the silent, barren setting and cold, blue tones leaves plenty of room for Marling and William Mapother (who plays John, the man whose family died in the accident) to explore the psychological landscape of their characters. The idea of the other Earth may (literally) loom largely in the background, but this is essentially a story of two people struggling to do what is right. If the camera work and editing (which is oftentimes striking amateurish in almost dated, student film kind of way) was on par with the rest of the film, ANOTHER EARTH might have the kind of impact this story deserves.