Putting hard-to-believe people in an impossible-to-believe situation brings forth a film with a lot of quirks, but "Another Earth," which opens here today, overcomes a lot of those obstacles. Excellent, understated direction, good writing and fine, low-key acting combine to pose many questions, but few answers, especially to the big question that sits in front of us for almost the entire movie.
Co-written by Brit Marling, who also portrays Rhoda Williams, and Mike Cahill, whose quiet direction is most impressive, it's a tale of redemption and recovery, of forgiveness for a giant evil.
Williams, an underage drinker is driving drunkenly and recklessly one night when she slams into a car driven by John Burroughs (William Mapother), killing his wife and child. When she completes her prison sentence she moves back home with her family, but is on edge, unable to move back into society. She takes a job as a janitor at a local school, working nights in an almost-empty building so as to avoid interaction. She works with an Indian janitor named Purdeep (Kumar Pallana).
And suddenly one day, the title character hoves into view.
It pulls up next to our familiar earth, as if waiting for us to move out and leave it our parking space.
Marling, slowly taking Rhoda out of her miasma and moving closer to reality, knocks on Burroughs' door one day, reports she has come to demonstrate her company's cleaning tactics, moves a little closer while the planetary intruder also moves ever closer. Marling does fine work as both writer and actor, and despite being totally inane on several levels, "Another Earth proves good entertainment.
Another Earth opens today at the Tivoli.