Archive for December 11th, 2011

Driving home from a party promising young student Rhoda (Brit Marling) hears a radio DJ describe a new earth like planet that has been discovered. She is distracted by the sight of the planet and causes an accident killing the family of music professor John Burroughs (William Mapother – cousin of Tom Cruise). After being released from prison four years later, Rhoda is looking for direction and redemption in her meagre existence and in her menial job. She is also in pursuit of a place on the first flight to “Earth 2” for reasons that are not clear to her.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a sci-fi movie, the new planet is always there in the background and in the thoughts of the characters but just as in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia this is a movie about people. Taking successful and ambitious characters and breaking them creates an interesting dynamic that defines the tone of the film. Its hard to make a compelling movie if the audience dislikes or has no connection the main protagonist, but how do you make a connection with a character whose selfish and careless actions have had such an effect? Rhoda is isolated from society and her family, but the isolation is self imposed, as if she feels the enforced exile of her prison sentence was inadequate. We follow Rhoda throughout the movie, she is in just about every scene, with this exposure we are forced to explore the psychology of the character and her actions. With this, we see her crime and her search for redemption, the camera, and with it us the audience are both accuser and conscience for her actions and her character, this is how we feel for her.

All of this would have fallen flat with anything less than a strong central performance, however this movie is elevated by a stunning performance by Brit Marling, who wrote the movie along with (first time) director Mike Cahill. I don’t know if the film has the profile to be an Oscar contender, but it really should. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival and being picked up by Fox Searchlight, it is an independent movie with a growing profile.

It is easy to draw comparisons with other movies like Melancholia, Rabbit Hole and even Journey to the Far Side of the Sun but this is very much its own movie whose meaning and message are open to interpretation, it is all the better for it. Whatever your thoughts I hope you agree that it is an engaging movie made by people who love what they are doing, most notably Brit Marling who is surly destined for stardom. 

Four Stars out of Five


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