On the day a new planet is discovered, 17-year-old science genius Rhoda (Marling) causes a car crash that only John (Mapother) survives. Four years later, she's out of prison, living with her parents and brother (Baker, Begerage and Taylor) and working as a cleaner. But when she finally gets up the nerve to apologise to John, she ends up cleaning his house instead. Meanwhile, the new planet is now much closer, and its mirror-image geography has earned it the name Earth 2. Maybe up there she can have a second chance.
The film is clearly a parable about the inner longing we have to correct the past so we can move forward. When Rhoda learns that the population of Earth 2 mirrors our own, she applies to travel there and learn if perhaps their history took another path. Meanwhile, John has been unable to move forward, giving up on his composing career and living in squalor (so Rhoda's cleaning job is no mean feat).
But of course this presents a problem for a film, even one with groovy sci-fi touches: the central characters do little more than mope around as they yearn for something that actually won't fix them. While John thinks that Rhoda might be helping him heal, that's only because he doesn't know who she is. As they grow closer, Rhoda only feels guiltier than ever.
Cleverly, Cahill leaves the science fiction in the background, only reminding us through glimpses of Earth 2 in the night sky as well as the pulsing electronic score. For much of the film, the personal drama is central, anchored by solid performances from Marling and Mapother and a sense of growing intrigue as we wonder how their relationship will turn out once Rhoda reveals her identity. But of course, the growing spectre of this other Earth is always there hovering in the background, and its presence makes the finale both provocative and a little unsatisfying.
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 12th October 2011
Box Office USA: $1.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $1.8M
Budget: $200 thousand
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight
Production compaines: Artists Public Domain
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 45
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Mike Cahill
Producer: Mike Cahill, Hunter Gray, Brit Marling, Nicholas Shumaker
Screenwriter: Brit Marling, Mike Cahill
Starring: Brit Marling as Rhoda Williams, William Mapother as John Burroughs, Jordan Baker as Kim Williams, Flint Beverage as Robert Williams, Robin Lord Taylor as Jeff Williams, Matthew-Lee Erlbach as Alex, Meggan Lennon as Maya Burroughs, AJ Diana as Amos Burroughs, DJ Flava as Himself, Bruce Colbert as Symposium Speaker, Paul Mezey as Symposium Speaker, Ana Valle as Symposium Speaker, Jeffrey Goldenberg as Symposium Speaker, Joseph A. Bove as Symposium Speaker, Rupert Reid as Keith Harding