I hadn't heard much about 'Another Earth' except that it won some festival prizes and was creating some buzz around the film industry. I purposely did not watch the trailer (which I think definitely heightened my enjoyment of the film) so I went in the theater a blank slate. It was a beautiful film, with an incredible mix of indie drama and science fiction that was downright perfection. A few minor plot problems exist, but overall the film is a delight.
1. It's a 'small' story inside a 'big' story - At the heart of the film, it is about a girl who as a teenager makes a mistake (drives drunk) that ends up killing 2 people and forever changing the lives of herself and the survivor of the crash. On that level - it is a fairly simple story - and has been done before. Yet, in the "world" of this film - a big discovery has been made. Another Earth has been discovered and the human race will also be forever changed. The films success lies in its ability to merge these 2 stories together - focusing more on the two characters while utilizing the science fiction tale to fill the background.
2. It asks the 'big' questions but doesn't answer them- What if there was an actual parallel world with a parallel you living a parallel life? What if you had the chance to meet him/her? What would you say to yourself? What happens when these parallel worlds start to deviate? Is one better than the other? All of these HUGE questions are almost nothing compared to the questions in the smaller story. What would you do if you took 2 lives (a child and his mother)? How would you be able to live with yourself? Rhoda's answer is to become invisible - she gets a job as a school janitor and keeps to herself. She realizes that she needs to apologize to John (the husband/father who survived the crash), but when she sees that this once successful man is on a downward spiral - she decides to help him instead of being honest with him. Is this an attempt to make things better for him or an attempt to feel some sort of atonement for herself? Brit Marling did a beautiful job at portraying pain and confusion with a glimpse of subtle hope (she also co-wrote the film).
3. The ending - ***Spoilerish****- In my mind, the film gives a very clear (and very unexpected) ending - the theory that is presented is the "shattered glass" theory. When the two worlds discovered each other (which happened the exact day of the accident) - the two worlds began to deviate. Rhoda believes that if this theory is true then the 2 people she killed could possibly still be alive. The fact that the "other" Rhoda appears in the end is a definitive answer for me that this is in fact true. She didn't send John in her place because she didn't need to. This still leaves some questions - like how did the "other" her get a seat on the shuttle to "Earth 1"? The reason "our" Rhoda gained the seat was because she was considered a felon - someone who has nothing else. Surely, the "other" Rhoda (if she didn't kill anyone) would have continued a successful life - went to MIT like she planned, etc (you can tell just by looking at her that she is supposed to be more polished than our Rhoda) - but would that be enough to gain a seat on the shuttle? I would have loved to see more from the "Earth 2". Maybe a sequel?