ANOTHER EARTH Saturday 17 December, 2011

If there is another Earth I hope it’s slightly warmer than this one.

This film is marketed as being intelligent and mature science fiction. I’m not sure I’d agree with that though. Although there is a high-level science fiction concept which over-arches it does little more than hang around in the wings waiting for it’s moment. It would be far more accurate to say that this is a film about guilt. A lot of the film is very heavy on the blue filter (literally and visually) and I couldn’t help thinking of it as Kieslowski’s Three Coulours: Blue but with a slightly different spin.

Given that the film is being mis-sold it fares remarkably well against the slow dawning of disappointed realisation. I did at times get the sense that this was a film that was trying very hard to be ‘grown up’ and worthy. At one point though it felt like I was watching a very lavish student film (the dinner with the prize).

Brit Marling is fantastic as the guilt ridden young women who is our focus. She turns in a subtle performance which allows the film to work. Her character makes a very stupid and tragically costly choice early on. Our positive emotions regarding the character rely on Marling’s portrayal of the uncomfortable shapes that her character twists into to try and escape the awful burden of guilt and remorse. If we do not feel positively toward her the film takes on a very different hue (different to the overtly blue colorisation of large swathes of the film). It is probably worth noting that she co-wrote the film with director MIke Cahill. So she has every reason to understand exactly that which is required from her performance. Perhaps this is why she manages to detail the complexities of fragility atop huge inner strength morphed into smothered beauty.

The other main character is played by William Mapother. Most of us will have already encountered him playing Ethan in Lost. I found this very distracting. I think it was an unfair task for him. His character is largely mute when we first start to encounter him. The problem is that he was not given anything in which he could disassociate himself form his previous incarnation. I just felt like I was watching Ethan skulking around. Not entirely his fault but a problem for me. I think they would have been better served by casting an actor who was not so strongly identified with another character for such a subtle part. Hey, that’s just me though. They probably wouldn’t have been able to raise the money any other way.

This film feels like an indie. There are the usual slight, oddball characters and a weird instrument moment. I don’t mind that kind of thing but some of you might not feel as well disposed toward it as me. Two scenes let the film down a little. The first offender sees the family watching something on television. Unless they regularly watch hours of this type of broadcast this is most serendipitous that they watched at that moment. The second miscreant scene is the ending. A little bit too ‘ooh what does is mean?’. A little lazy but I guess that is understandable seeing as the whole science fiction element of the film feels superfluous.

This film is shot well although I think they could have been a little less heavy handed with the blue colour correction. The score that accompanies the visuals is gorgeous and the two go hand in hand very well. There is some lovely, subtle, sound design which is a structural callback to an earlier story one of the characters tells.

Should you see this film? Maybe. Don’t go along expecting science fiction. If you liked Three Colours: Blue you may get along with this film. The performance of Brit Marling (both as writer and actor) deserve your attention. I think (and hope) we may be seeing much much more of her.

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