Another Earth


One world is not enough.

From When Worlds Collide to Melancholia, rogue planets have given sci-fi plenty of apocalyptic wow. The appearance of a second Earth in the sky prompts a more intimate cataclysm in Mike Cahill and rising-star Brit Marling’s hypnotic chamber drama of grief and guilt. Speculative rather than spectacular, this festival hit resembles Solaris crossed with Rabbit Hole on planet Sundance.

Marling is Rhoda, an MIT student tossed into jail when, drunk-driving and distracted by Earth 2, she accidentally kills a young family except the dad, John (Lost’s William Mapother). Four years on, freed and seeking atonement, she becomes cleaner then lover to a grief-wrecked John, who doesn’t know her true identity.

That psychological stew becomes distinctly sci-fi flavoured when Earth 2 is revealed to be a mirror of ours. In bigger films, Earth 2 would cause mass eco-panic. Here it’s a cosmic question mark, its meaning lateral not literal, causing oodles of soul-searching and head-scratching rather than tsunamis.

Cahill registers Earth 2’s micro and macro impact by smartly layering character and ideas. The handheld-camera plunge into Rhoda and John’s emotional wreckage is the film’s raw heart, but there’s brain-food too in the hum of media pundits debating Earth 2’s scientific challenges.

Although plausibility issues do linger – Rhoda’s easy insinuation into John’s life takes some swallowing – suspend disbelief and Another Earth is US indie sci-fi in a seductive Euro-arthouse mould, designed to provoke and prod. If Marling enters Hollywood’s orbit – which she surely will – here’s hoping its sensibility stays with her.


Marling’s breakout film thrums with restrained thought and feeling. Flawed but fully felt, it’s a trip worth taking for those who like sci-fi small-scale but full of soul and ideas.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • FBJWalters

      Nov 28th 2011, 18:12


      Went the the first critics' screening of this and thought it was utter rubbish. Complete pretentious, arty bollocks, with some completely ridiculous characters, especially the "mystic/wise" janitor. Completeyl ruined what could have been a great idea.

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    • FBJWalters

      Nov 28th 2011, 18:24

      Sorry about my atrocious spelling, my keyboard keeps messing up

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    • Murphy0806

      Nov 30th 2011, 22:43


      I disagree. It does border on being pretentious tosh but ultimately falls just the right side. Mike Cahill and Brit Marling weren't afraid to throw around weighty questions and let the audience figure out (or not) the answers and are definitely ones to watch.

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    • FBBSherris

      Dec 3rd 2011, 12:24

      You shouldn't have mentioned Solaris in the review because after reading that I gave the Criterion BluRay of the original Russian Solaris a watch first and after that absolute stunning masterpiece Another Earth was just complete amateur drivel!

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    • madmutz5150

      Dec 24th 2011, 18:12


      Lars Von Trir has packed the possible apocalyptic scenario into a decadence melancholic symbolism with a proper name and gave us the real end in real space, which was surprise for me. There's no need for the end in Cahill's rabbit hole, the mirror has broken and everything is possible. Even the solace and redemption as a ultimate goal in the life. Brit Marling is a real revelation with a future, Rhoda could have before mirror break.

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      Dec 28th 2011, 20:04


      Really 4 stars this was rubbish, very slow, the lady cleaning the poor mans house trying to applogise, then more cleaning, We got little glimpses of the other earth but never expanded upon that till the last seconds of the film. Utter rubbish

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