The Sci-fi and Fantasy Book Club Message Board › Another Earth (contains spoilers)

Another Earth (contains spoilers)

Mike
user 10624140
Springfield, VA
Post #: 10
I decided that we need a thread to discuss the latest film 'Another Earth', so I could offer my humble opinion as a Sci-fi fan, and also a fan of Inde film and cinematography.
I was gravely disappointed in this film --it failed on multiple levels. First of all, it was mislabeled as Science Fiction. This film was neither speculative nor hard Sci-Fi. If I had to label it anything, it would be philosophical drama. The only Sci-fi portion was the appearance of another planet, which was more of a metaphorical device in the plot than anything else. Usually even soft Sci-Fi books/movies at least incorporate Sci-Fi elements into the story in some manner. Take for instance Solaris, which could be argued is a philosophical movie as well; set on a space station, with a supernatural occurrence driving the plot. This movie had none of that. Besides a big planet in sky on the outdoor shots, 'Another Earth' had nothing to do with the movie. You could tell this story a dozen other more effective ways than a silly Sci-Fi gimmick. I don't argue with the substance of the film, just the use of the Sci-Fi genre to market it.
Case in point, the movie 'The Fountain'. This was a similar movie in a lot of ways, dealing with the idea absolution and the endless cycle of life-death-rebirth. There were Sci-Fi elements in this film: an endless spaceship ride and a Tree of Youth, etc. --but no one ever tried to label this movie Sci-Fi, because it wasn't --it was a philosophical drama dealing with the transcendental nature of the soul. Labeling 'Another Earth' Science Fiction is on par with labeling 'Starship Troopers' a war movie.
Point Number Two: Even with out the failed genre assignment, this film did not impress. It had a brilliantly conceived plot, dealing with a tragic situation. It offered an examination of very human feelings like depression, self-loathing, renewal, forgiveness, etc. But somewhere about 20min or so in, it completely trashed any viewer's hopes of identifying with the characters with terrible dialog (or lack of dialog) ill-conceived scenes with more holes of silence than story, and characters that are so jaded that you cannot possibly feel anything for them. I mean, apart from blank stares and naked snow angels, just what did the protagonist do to indicate any feeling at all? To a psychiatrist, this might be the most realistic portrayal of depression in history, but it does not work in film. Instead of a 'very human' exploration of loss and renewal, viewers got two really boring people cleaning house and eventually having bad sex.
Now I am sure that there was a reason, for the cliche 'Wise Old Indian Man' to blind and deafen himself...probably a myth or some other BS moral/pseudo-religious philosophical point that the writer was trying to symbolically convey. But symbolism only works when someone cares or knows enough to understand it, and a janitor who had like 3 lines in the movie is not that guy. Honestly, I think that was about the most disgusting part of the film. The writer probably thought he was making some awesome huge philosophical point with that, but instead all he conveyed was his own pretentiousness. Symbols only work if you understand them.
I will give the movie this --it was beautifully shot and edited, with lots of empty, stark spaces and loneliness --that was good. It seemed like it was always sunset for some reason but whatever. I guess the setting is very revealing of the emptiness of the characters. It is pretty sad to see a setup with such tragic characters with so much possibility completely fall so completely flat that I don't even care if either one just keels over midway through the movie. It would have been better if Earth 2 would have grown tentacles and ate the other Earth.
Okay enough, bottom line --being an Inde director does not you are a good director, and this movie proves that. Don't use the Sci-Fi genre to market what is a poorly executed, passionless drama. If this movie had been a silent film, what would we have lost? --not much I think.
Vijay
Vijay82
Group Organizer
Fairfax, VA
Post #: 488
For the record, I personally really enjoyed the film, and it met my expectations, though that may have been because I was prepared for it to be an artsy indie film that was more character-driven than plot-driven, with somewhat slow pacing. It wasn't by any means the best indie film I've ever seen (it certainly could have been stronger in some areas), but I still thought it was very well done, and I didn't have the same problems with the dialogue or acting that some others seemed to have.

It wasn't anywhere close to hard sci-fi or even social sci-fi, but I do think it qualifies as speculative fiction. As for the metaphorical device, Asimov once said that "science fiction is an existential metaphor, that allows us to tell stories about the human condition." And I don't think the story would have been exactly the same without the sci-fi twist to the story. With almost every story like this tragedy, grief, and guilt play out with little in the way of real atonement possible. You can never give back what your actions took from someone, or offer any hope of a reality in which the tragedy doesn't exist. To me, that was what the Earth 2 scenario allowed.

I also thought the main character's acting worked for what she was trying to portray. Overt displays of emotion or extensive dialogue wouldn't have fit the situation she was in. Guilt of that magnitude leaves a person numb and paralyzed, and unspeakable remorse is...well...unspeakable. So while I get why that might make it harder in some ways to empathize or connect with her as a character, to me it made it more real and powerful.

And while I don't necessarily agree with it, Mike: The Fountain IS often widely considered a science fiction film and Starship Troopers IS widely considered to be a military science fiction movie. Check their wikipedia articles and IMDB pages.

Having said that, general reviews of the movie tend to be fairly divided. While more critics and viewers like it than not, there was a significant minority that really didn't care for it, for many of the same reasons Mike listed.
Kent
MakeDifferences
Springfield, VA
Post #: 96
Ya know, I really kinda liked "Another Earth". Sure, we gave it a load (or 3) of crap during the viewing - but that was only because it left us such wide-open gaps in dialogue - and the noticeable lack of a filler soundtrack. Hey, we're a rowdy group - it's tough to contain our zeal (despite Vijay's half-hearted attempts)! But, for all it's limitations, I thought it was a pretty decent flick! I liked the idea of a parallel earth - despite how hackneyed that concept might be. All in all, I thought the movie didn't suck! Sure, there were physical impracticalities - Earth2 kept getting closer, and there were not tidal/seismic repercussions; or the gravitational field of Earth2 didn't suck the moon into its orbit as it gained proximity. But, hey - it's an Indie film that wanted to try something different. Not bad. Not GREAT, but not bad!

That said - Mike, I totally see your points. It was almost a contrivance to call it Sci-Fi...just barely limboing in under the intergalactic bamboo pole. But, marketing does crazy things to good ideas! But, I didn't get too wrapped up with that. I just took it a storyline value, and have zero expectations...waiting to see what ride it was going to offer me. I've seen better - but I've seen (we've ALL seen - as a group!) far, far worse. At least there were no talking, disembodied heads in this one (disembodied heads, yes; talking, no!).

So, it wasn't phenomenal - but I didn't feel that my time was wasted. I guess, for me, it was more captivating to watch the guilt expiation attempts of the female lead. How do you deal with that sort of pain??? And, from the male lead's perspective - how do you cope when your world (metaphorically and literally) is thrown into complete chaos??? I thought that the film dealt with those issues well enough...at least getting the viewer to ponder the possibility of being in that position themselves.

No, it was no Spielberg extravaganza - but it was a decent little slice of life. Sure, some of the scenes were a bit contrived - but I think the director was trying to get the audience to see the futility and the desparation of the characters - - that people in those circumstances probably WOULDN'T necessarily make sound/wise decisions in the face of such emotional trauma.

It kept me engaged, and it made me think...well, at least it made me say to myself, "Damn, glad that ain't me!" Still, the idea of flying to a mirror planet to possibly meet yourself - well, who wouldn't want to do that??? And it HAS to make you think, "Hmmm, what would I do if I had won that lottery to fly to Earth2? Where would I visit? Who would I look up? Who would I go kick the living crap out of?"

So, out of a 1 to 5 rating, I'd give it a solid:

2 Earths and a waxing gibbous (nearly full/harvest) Moon
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