Film Talk: Another Earth (2011)

Plot (taken from IMDB): On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.


‘there’s another Earth, get to that bloody bit.’ 

I’ll come right out and say that the two words that came to mind when I finished watching this film were ‘disappointed’ and ‘cheated’.

Just read that plot outline again and tell me what jumps out. Surely it is that first part – On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar systemjust, yes, how awesome does that sound.

The problem is, if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the whole film shouting at the TV ‘there’s another Earth, get to that bloody bit.’

The thing about Sci-fi is that it is a genre of ideas and a story that gives us the possibility of another earth is quite the canvas to work with. Unfortunately, it is never capitalised on other then to have a few philosophical conversations that should, bearing in mind there is ANOTHER EARTH, have heft and real poignancy.

What this film is really about, is watching a character trying to piece back together her life after being at fault for a car crash that kills a man’s wife and child.

Here’s the thing: There are things going on in this film which would, if they had been the main storyline, had lead to a film that was much more effective.

‘What would you say to yourself if you met yourself’


All of the moral, ethical, philosophical and existential questions are already there because of what happens during the course of the film as Brit Marlin’s character tries to make amends.

That part of the storyline, where she slowly works her way into the life of John – the man whose family she was responsible for killing – has more than enough going for it. In fact, there is one scene in particular, where they are cuddling after sex and he describes how happy he is, completely unaware who this woman really is, that is very effective and actually quite chilling really when you think about it.

Take out the whole thing about there being another earth and have the characters discuss the same sort of things (for example there is a line about what would you say to yourself if you met yourself) and it becomes a far more powerful proposition. Instead we have this whole thing about if there is a duplicate planet, maybe up there things didn’t pan out like they did here -maybe John’s family is still alive.

Arresting Image

As a full exploration of the possibilities of a duplicate earth it falls short. As an emotional drama about a woman trying to rebuild her life, it is much better but suffers because of the spectre of Earth 2, which incidentally looks amazing in all of the shots where the characters look up at the sky. It is an arresting image and you can feel the weight of such a sight across the narrative.

The acting across the board is really good and the one thing that I will say is that just because I felt disappointed, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that cinema is better for having someone like Brit Marlin writing and acting in films that try something different and interesting (See The East)

In any case, from looking at other reviews this is a film that has a lot of fans and good reviews. So maybe it’s just me.

IMDB rating: 7  Do I agree? Not quite. I’d give it a 5, which everyone always thinks is such a horrible mark but it’s 5 of out 10, right bang in the middle.




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