Another Earth (2011)

Rated PG-13. Our Ratings: V -1;L -2; S/N -3. Running time: 1 hour 32 min.

By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.
Proverbs 16:6

No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Proverbs 28:13

Rhoda falls in love with the man she harmed years ago.

© 2011 Fox Searchlight Films

Although most people think of alien invaders and space battles when “sci fi” is mentioned, science fic tion at its best posits a “What if…?” The people at Sundance realized this when they awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize to Another Earth, on the basis that it “best portrays a sci-fi story” to director/writer Mike Cahill and co-writer Brit Marling’s intriguing film.

On the night that teenaged Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) hears on her car radio that a blue planet is entering our solar system, she makes a fatal mistake. Intending to study astrophysics at M.I.T. after her high school graduation, she is on her way home from a drinking party when she looks up to catch a glimpse of the blue star. Thus as she comes to an intersection her car wanders from its path, crashing into another one and killing the wife and daughter of John Burroughs (William Mapother), a famous composer and professor at Yale University.

After her release from prison, Rhoda has given up college plans and works as a cleaning woman at her old high school. When she learns the whereabouts of the widower, who has dropped out of life, she goes to seek forgiveness. However, unable to find the words, she manages to hire on as his cleaning lady.

It is fascinating to watch their relationship develop and to learn that the mysterious planet, now so close that it can be seen even in the daytime, turns out to be a mirror image of our Earth. We wait in suspense the moment when John will discover her identity, and also wonder about the contest that she enters. A billionaire has arranged for a space shuttle to transport a group to visit Earth 2. To open up the passenger list to the unwealthy he sets up an essay contest, the winner of which will be welcomed aboard along with the paying passengers.

This is a fascinating “What if…?” film exploring the themes of guilt and atonement.

There is plenty to question in the tale, such as why there doesn’t seem to be any disturbance of the tides as the alternate Earth draws closer. However, the multiverse theory, which states that ours is but one of an endless number of universes existing simultaneously, is intriguing enough to keep us wondering. People of faith might also wonder about the role of the Creator God in such a system.

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