Limité Must-See: Another Earth (2011)

(Re-posted from Limité

by Daniel Quitério

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight. © 2011. All rights reserved.
This is the one movie from the past three years that I’m still tweeting about. It’s rare these days that a film comes along and etches its mark in your mind quite the way Another Earth did to me. Stitched together using bubble gum and string (and green fabric and googly eyes—really), this super low-budget indie darling launched the careers of star and co-writer Brit Marling (Arbitrage, 2012) and writer/director Mike Cahill (I Origins, 2014). Believing that it would be near impossible for two unknowns to attract funding in order to make their film, Cahill and Marling took matters into their own hands. The two Georgetown alumni shot the film in Southern Connecticut with a tiny crew, ultimately earning it a place in Sundance’s 2011 official selection, where it won a Special Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, which is awarded to a film that focuses on science or technology as a theme. It was distributed later that year by Fox Searchlight.

Another Earth tells the story of Rhoda, a young woman who is forced to deal with the repercussions of her deadly actions in the midst of the discovery of a second Earth inhabiting the solar system. What could have been a hokey sci-fi pic is beautifully and artfully presented via Cahill’s most capable hands (the same hands that drew a picture of two Earths with the caption, “What if there were two?” as his initial pitch; he admits he didn’t know any better then). Forget the aliens, forget the phaser guns, and all other tropes of campy sci-fi cheese. This film has heart and emotion, tightly presented in one of the best screenplays I’ve seen put to screen in recent memory. In fact, I’ve long said that Another Earth’s screenplay could (and should) be used as a primer for any screenwriting 101 course. The characters are fully developed, their arcs are unmistakable, and the scenes show no wasted effort.

Cahill’s and Marling’s third effort together (their first was 2004 documentary Boxers and Ballerinas) is I Origins, which opens in limited release this Friday. The film, which stars Marling, Michael Pitt (TV’s Boardwalk Empire), and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 2011), asks whether there are things about the universe that perhaps science can’t explain. It, too, won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

After seeing both Another Earth and I Origins, I’m eagerly anticipating the pair’s next collaboration, which it recently assured an audience in New York’s Lincoln Center that it is working on. Go see these movies, man. They’re amazing.


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