Sundance Film Review: Another Earth

January 29, 2011 : 3:10 am | by Travis Tyler

Receiving a standing ovation at Sundance is a pretty big deal. In fact, receiving a standing ovation at Eccles Theater (which seats about a 1,000 plus) is about as epic as it gets for a filmmaker. The goofy, brilliant, and lovable Mike Cahill wowed the audience with his first feature film Another Earth.

Another Earth offers a unique blend of drama and science fiction. On the night that a twin planet earth is discovered, John Burroughs (William Mapother), loses his family when the recently M.I.T. accepted Rhoda (Brit Marling), slams into his car. Four years later, after John wakes from his coma, and Rhoda is released from prison, their story begins to unravel.

Not knowing how to get on with her life, Rhoda attempts to apologize to the recovering John. John’s life is sad. He spends his days alone, mourning and living in filth. Knocking at his door, Rhoda finds herself at a loss for words and claims to work for a maid service. As their relationship escalates, the tension builds and builds as the audience anticipates what’s going to happen when John finds out who Rhoda really is, the person responsible for taking the ones he loved most from this world.

After getting a few opinions, the consensus is that people were turned off by combining sci-fi and drama. It’s as if people want one or the other, but together they don’t add up. That’s exactly where I disagree. The spice of sci-fi kept my interest and fascination wondering, and the drama had my hands clenched the entire time.

During the Q&A Cahill stopped an audience member mid question, only to zip up his pants. The quirky and somewhat silly director’s debut film is anything but that. It’s probably one of the most impressively and professionally executed films here at Sundance. Beautifully shot, convincingly acted and tactically sequenced and edited, Another Earth will make you forget you even bought that large popcorn. Especially when the lights go up and you realized it got kicked over in the suspense.

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