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Another Earth (Blu-ray Review)

25 Nov, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 11/29/11
Box Office $1.3 million
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo
Rated ‘PG-13’ for disturbing images, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use.
Stars Brit Marling, William Mapother.

Imagine the existence of another planet within eyesight of Earth capable of sustaining human life.

That’s the scenario celestial Rhonda Williams (Brit Marling, the 2010 Sundance Film Festival ‘it’ girl) — an MIT-bound freshman fascinated by space — is thinking about as she drives home drunk from a party.

Alcohol notwithstanding, Williams becomes so engaged by the site of the new planet on the other side of the moon that she runs a red light, plowing into another vehicle. A mother and son are killed, leaving the father, John Burroughs — an accomplished conductor at Yale University — in a coma. Williams is sentenced to four years in prison and a lifetime of guilt.

Indie film Another Earth then focuses on Williams’ post-prison funk, taking the existence of a lunar planet with life forms very similar to Earth at face value.

Determined to cleanse a shattered psyche, the young woman takes a job as a janitor at a local high school, applying her self-loathing on graffiti-infested walls and bathroom stalls with aplomb.

Internet searches identify the name of the accident’s lone survivor (Burroughs), and Williams sets out to make amends — posing as a household cleaning service employee.

Burroughs (William Mapother in a rare leading role) could use the help. Distraught to the point of incapacitation, the college professor spends most days couch-bound in a medically induced stupor, surrounded by accumulating trash.

Naturally, a clean house and Williams’ understated beauty and demeanor are enough to snap Burroughs out of his malaise. Of course, Williams comes with strings attached.

Some viewers might make the connection early what a mirror image of Earth and its inhabitants could offer a flawed past on this Earth, but Another Earth cleverly throws in a twist at the end.

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