Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Another Earth Review: If you had the chance, would you go to Another Earth?

We all have questions about things. About our past, our future and how the things we do affect our lives and the people around us. But most of all we wonder if we had made different choices would our lives be different? Could we live in a world in which we could do that? These types of ideas are so often considered by time travel stories. After all, it is the perfect medium to explore such an idea as that kind of ability remains beyond our reach. Dramas too have it in them to talk about the consequences of actions and how we deal with the world. To combine the sci-fi and the drama then can often be one of the best ways of telling a story.

Another Earth is one such story. It’s one of those smaller, independent films that got a bit of traction but never managed to materialize as a strong contender in its theatrical release. I think it’s because of the sci-fi element that it had more trouble then it probably should have. Despite the emergence of fan culture in recent years and a vested interest in sci-fi fantasy as a more respected form of entertainment, largely thanks to recent portrayals of superheroes in big blockbuster films coming out of Hollywood studios, sci-fi fantasy is still generally looked down upon in the filmmaking community. Unless it comes out of Hollywood, or sometimes despite that fact, it’s seen as popular with a specific group of people but not respectable with a larger audience.

What’s interesting about Another Earth is that it in some ways attempts not to be a sci-fi film despite the basic premise of it. The story follows a young girl who makes an unfortunate mistake in her youth and struggles to come to terms with how she can live with herself afterwards. That in and of itself is a story worth its weight in gold if told properly in the independent film community. However where it most likely loses a lot of people is the fact that it’s set against the backdrop of a world where another earth has been discovered in space near our own. Even though the concept of the film isn’t hindered in any way by the idea of another earth and in many ways is not central to the story, I think it keeps people from considering a really great film.

Yes, the film did fairly well at the box office for what it did. With a budget of $200,000 the film made $1 million plus, but when I talk to non-filmmakers about it they haven’t really heard of it, and in some cases even filmmakers have no idea what I am talking about. I even failed to see it in theatres even though I heard about it months ahead of time and had planned on it since the beginning. And that’s a real shame, because having finally found a copy of it on Blu-ray, I can say that it was well worth the money I paid for it.

The story is simply told and the characters are pretty solid despite the fact that you don’t really get to know much about them. What sells it is the fact that the two main characters are very much focused on a single event, an event which we witness in the film so we understand exactly where each of them is coming from and why they do the things they do.

I actually had an idea that was somewhat similar to this in that it was a sci-fi fantasy story which centered around a single event or idea but I wasn’t certain it would work. After watching this film, I can honestly say my opinion has changed and I am going to have to take a crack at it.

If you had the chance, would you go to Another Earth? I think I’ll leave the bigger question up to you, but maybe this film will help you make up your mind.

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