Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Earth

‘Another Earth’ is a science fiction film that refuses to be a science fiction film. It is in this paradox lies the beauty of this small, wonderful film. Essentially, the film is a study of guilt, a powerful one at that, and choices of redemption, where the science fiction aspect works as a unique narrative device. Agreed. Yet, what is strange that, if you disassociate this SF narrative device from the plot, the story turns into a maudlin twice-told two pence melodrama, and loses its sting as it has in it current form. How do you explain this contradiction? You do not. You let the plot take care of it.

Rhonda is a bright young student, selected for the MIT to learn cosmology. Everything is perfect. That evening, while returning from a party, Rhonda hears the local radio jockey talking about a new planet being sighted. Curious, Rhonda looks up towards the night sky while driving, and as it should happen, hits another car, killing the son and wife of John Burroughs, a musician, while the musician goes into comma.

Four years on, Rhonda is out of jail, and she has changed. She has changed considerably. So has the world. The new planet is now closer to the earth, closer than the moon, everyone can see it, and they are trying to communicate if that planet has any life form; because in all respect the planet looks life a replica of our earth. It’s like looking at the mirror image of the earth.

Rhonda meanwhile tries to get on with her life. It is difficult. She refuses to do any intellectual job anymore. She takes up a janitor’s job in a local school. She is not worried about herself. She is more concerned about the family she killed. She does some research and finds out that John is out of comma and is living alone in the country.

She visits him, perhaps just to see how he was coping. She had no clues. He answers the door, and she says she’s a cleaning lady. He hires her. Now, you know what’s going to happen. John will fall in love with Rhonda, and the girl will play along to an extent to make him happy, perhaps this is the atonement of her guilt.

Then something happens. Scientists figure that the planet is indeed a replica of our earth, where there is another version of us. A scientist make the “contact” and talks to a version of herself from the other side. Excited at this development, a corporate announces an essay writing competition where the winner would be sent to the other earth. Rhonda write an essay and explains why she should be given a chance, because her life in this world is already over. She gets the chance to travel.

Meanwhile, Jonh has fallen for Rhonda and dreams of a future together. Rhonda cannot continue the deception anymore. She bites the bullet and tells John and she is the reason that robbed him of his family. John is angry and throws Rhonda out of the house.

Rhonda accepts the development. She has accepted her punishment. She just wants John to be happy. Then she catches an interview with an cosmologist on the TV, who says, perhaps, there was link between the people from this earth and the people of the other earth, so that people from both the earths are exactly same. That much have been when the other earth was hidden from our view. Now, when the other earth is visible, perhaps that bond is broken, perhaps, people on that other earth has different choices.

Rhonda likes to believe that. She likes to believe that the other Rhonda out there did not drive that day, and perhaps John’s family is still alive. She runs to John’s and gives him the ticket to travel to the other earth. Perhaps he will be able to see his family for once more. John takes up the offer.

Rhonda is at peace. For now. But, how long will it last?

Another Earth is a 2011 American science fantasy/drama film directed by Mike Cahill in his feature film debut. The film stars William Mapother and Brit Marling. It premiered at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and is being distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. More Here.

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