Georgetown Alums’s Another Earth is out of this world
Today, Georgetown Alums Mike Cahill (COL ’01) and Brit Marling (COL ’05), both of whom graduated with degrees in Economics, opened their feature film Another Earth, which gained acclaim months ago when it garnered two prestigious awards at the Sundance Film Festival, in New York and Los Angeles (the film is set for national release sometime in August). The film, the sophomore collaborative effort of the two producers, explores themes of fate and the vastness of the universe in the context of personal tragedy.
The film, which the pair co-wrote, Cahill directed, and Marling stars in, revolves around the relationship between Rhoda (Marling) and John, played by William Mapother, of Lost fame. Rhoda has recently been released from prison, after serving a four-year sentence after a car accident which put John in a coma, and killed his wife and child. Rhoda, the responsible party, was driving not only under the influence of alcohol, but distracted by the shocking sight of a newly visible planet in the sky. Four years later, the planet has become clearly identical to our own Earth.
As Rhoda tries to put her once promising life back together, she finds out that John has awoken from his coma, and after failing to apologize to him, she begins cleaning his house under the guise of a complementary maid service, in attempt to make his life even marginally more bearable. As their relationship develops, Rhoda is given the opportunity to travel to this “other earth,” which is inhabited by people whose lives were once identical to those on Earth until the planets into view of each other, at which time the “synchronicity” of their existences was disrupted.
The story is set in the winter of Connecticut’s “Haven” towns, and the stark landscape effectively mirrors both Rhoda’s and John’s loneliness in a world that has very little left for either of them. While the scope of the pair’s story is quite small, the film begs the viewer to question certain things about his or her own individuality and place in the universe. Voiceovers from scientific “experts” narrate the day-to-day activities of the main characters, but also give a philosophical backdrop to the plot. The science fiction genre in which the film resides presents filmmakers with the opportunity to explore such philosophical questions, but this often comes at the expense of the characters themselves, who get lost in such fictive devices. The tragedy of John and Rhoda’s relationship, however, remains at the forefront of the film, and is only enhanced by the presence of this other world. This film’s phenomenon serves only to frame the human tragedy of loss and regret, without becoming some sort of tacky ploy that forcibly drives the plot (read Donnie Darko).
Although independently funded, the film is visually stunning, and Marling and Mopother expertly embody heartbreaking and genuine sadness in their respective characters. After its initial release at Sundance, the film soon caught the eye of Fox Searchlight Pictures, the major production company that recently released Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a film starring Brad Pitt which also deals with some of the more metaphysical aspects of existence. With what is likely to become success in both the world of independent and major motion pictures, this pair that seemed once destined for spots at investment banks seem to be quite at home in the film industry.
Photo from IMDB.