Another Earth [Blu-ray]
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What if an exact copy of our planet was recently discovered, and it could potentially be carrying an exact copy of yourself in tow. This is the backdrop to Mike Cahill's directorial debut, Another Earth. Like the recently released indie hit Bellflower, it was made out of pocket by a tightly knit crew just wanting to put their ideas out into the world. With a little help from a B-list star and some low budget special effects that give it that all important sci-fi backdrop, it snuck into Sundance where it won the Special Jury Prize. The much lauded film is deserving of its praise as it is an intelligently written drama with smartly integrated sci-fi roots, making for an unpredictable tale of deep regret and revived potential.
After a night of drunken celebration after getting into MIT, Rhoda (Brit Marling) finds herself driving home when the radio DJ announces the newly found planet. While her eyes are to the sky looking for the tiny blue sphere, her car slams into another vehicle, killing a 5 year old boy, his pregnant mother, and leaving the father in a coma. Following Rhoda's release from prison 4 years later, she takes a job as a janitor. On the way home from work one day, she sees John Burroughs (William Mapother), the lone survivor of the accident. She follows him home with the intension of apologizing, but once he opens the door she loses her nerve and pretends to work for a cleaning service offering free trials. He reluctantly agrees, and she decides to follow through, returning week after week to do his dishes and dust his fading photographs. Meanwhile, Rhoda has entered a contest to win a trip to Earth 2, as the new planet has come to be known. Maybe she can find redemption on an alien planet before she does at home. Maybe not.
Like the aforementioned Bellflower, Another Earth successfully manages to go beyond indie norms with interesting visuals that aren't used as a crutch. As the sci-fi elements unfold within dramatically progressing scenes through in scene media, its clear its writers knew how to push the story forward quickly, smartly moving past the scientific to the emotional as fast as possible. Though the characters are fairly one note creations, the acting by writer/actor Marling, and Lost star Mapother compliment the material with nuance. With a carefully planned story structure that consistently builds suspense throughout, the film is a brilliant original work from its new bright filmmakers.
Fox has put quite a nice little combo package together for the film. Despite the fact that the film was filmed with a camera that had a maximum resolution of 720p, the HD transfer gives the film quite a nice look. The film is loaded with deep blues and dimly lit scenes that have fine detail. There is the obvious rigidity in some visuals that come with the up-conversion, but that is unavoidable in this situation. Fall On Your Sword's score pumps through the speakers with pleasantly pulsing vigor and a full bodied sound. Voices also sound natural and well mixed. Included on the disc are a few deleted scenes, a music video for one of the songs by Fall On Your Sword, and a few short interview clips with Cahill and Marling. The release comes with a DVD and Digital copy in tow, and all three discs are packaged in a standard Blu-ray case with a vibrant slipcover.
Set inside a cosmic conundrum, Another Earth chooses to explore the human heart more than its extraterrestrial counterpart. Marling, Mapother, and their small group of extras dig deep into our perpetual regrets and how we cope with lose. It's a film that makes for a surprisingly introspective night in the home theater, and one that comes recommended.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: November 29, 2011