Brit Marling, the lithe, stunning co-writer and star of Mike Cahill'sAnother Earth
, plays Rhoda, a 17-year-old who is celebrating her acceptance to MIT on the same night that a new planet is discovered. Called Earth 2 by the denizens of Earth 1, this planet will prove to house a parallel universe populated by doppelgängers for each Earth resident.
Buzzed on beer and distracted by this new orb on the horizon, Rhoda crashes her car into a sedan carrying re-nowned composer John Burroughs (William Mapother) and his pregnant wife and young son. Burroughs is left comatose, his family dead, and Rhoda spends the next four years in jail instead of college. Then things really get complicated.
Post-prison, she talks her way into Burroughs's secluded home; instead
of putting the pieces together, Burroughs puts the moves on her while
Rhoda takes a job as a janitor, her golden locks trailing out from under
a gray beanie, blowing her cover as an anonymous plebe. Improbably
receptive to this broken-down middle-aged man's advances, the nubile
impostor keeps her actual identity mum until plot contrivance forces a
She also enters an essay contest to win a trip on a Richard Branson-like
entrepreneur's shuttle to Earth 2. "As a felon, I'm an unlikely
candidate for most things, but perhaps not for this," she argues.
"Perhaps, I'm the most likely."
Handheld, grainy, and under-lit, Another Earth is routinely so ugly that
Marling's extravagant, appropriately otherworldly beauty functions as
its most impressive special effect. As the relationship between the
gullible sad sack and the flaxen-haired fraud overtakes the
interplanetary premise as the driving force of the film, it becomes
clear that Marling's primary--if potentially unconscious--subject is the
politics and mechanics of beauty as a tool of manipulation.
argue that Marling has written what she knows, but she's also created
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for her-self a character whose undeniable physical appeal overwhelms all
other aspects of her personality, in a film so drunk on that appeal
that even a suicide attempt is sexualized.