Two things were raised at the discussion following Monday nights RBC Film Club showing of Mike Cahill’s debut feature film Another Earth (2011). The first was whether the film was truly part of the science fiction genre and the second was the films conspicuously handheld low budget production. Looking up the definition of Sci-fi in my well-thumbed Collins English dictionary which describes it as ‘a literary genre that makes imaginative use of scientific knowledge’ while Wikipedia admits ‘that science fiction includes such a wide range of themes and subgenres that it is notoriously difficult to define’. So what chance has our film club of deciding, if Another Earth, which has as its background a planet that is getting dangerously close to mother earth and which resembles our world perfectly, falls within this genre? The camera work was criticized in some depth with accusations that included its amateurish feel and how irritating it was at times.
The evening opened with an intelligently amusing introduction by Mike Gray who explained that the task of preparing his introduction made him reflect on his feelings toward sci-fi. Not being a great fan of the genre and after listing all the films he had seen that he felt fell into the category he surprised himself by coming up with a list of 68 movies admitting that some were more fondly remembered than others. The reason for this, he went on to explain, was basically the same for any fondly remembered film, it had to have a good story, this he said was in his opinion the main criteria for any type of cinematic entertainment, and I for one would certainly not disagree with Mikes theory. Explaining to his ever-attentive audience that this independent film was reportedly made for the remarkably low sum of $200,000, virtually a no-budget film by Hollywood standards. It starred Brit Marling (who is also the joint writer and producer along with Cahill) and William Malpother, known for his role in the television series Lost. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, where it was well received and more importantly was picked up for distribution by Fox although the general critical response has been very mixed. Mike went on to entertain us with some appropriate trivia about the film and finally the opening credits rolled (which indecently some member’s thought the best part of the film).
|Brit Marling and William Malpother|
The main theme of the movie involves a relationship that develops between a young college student Rhoda (Marling) and the husband and father (Malpother) of the family she killed in a terrible drunk driving accident. The New England teenager spends four years in prison for her drunken misdeeds, and on her release tries to redeem herself with the man whose life she ruined, but instead, without divulging her terrible secret, becomes his cleaner and one thing leads to another. In the meantime a space ship is being prepared to travel to what has become known as Earth 2, on which a seat is being offered to the winner of a competition. The space loving Rhoda enters the contest.
This science fantasy/drama is no more a science fantasy than a good drama. At best it’s an interesting and mildly intriguing movie with a great soundtrack. The Cahill and Marling partnership could and should have done a lot better with this interesting concept.