Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother
Synopsis: A duplicate of our planet is discovered on the same night Rhoda Williams is partying to celebrate her admission into MIT. She gazes at this new wonder while driving home, perhaps somewhat inebriated, and smashes into the car of John Burroughs and his family. The crash leaves him in a coma, his pregnant wife and child dead. Rhoda is sent to prison for four years, and upon her release visits Burrough’s home to try to make amends.
I will be very immediately frank in sharing my thoughts on this film. This is not an easy movie to watch. As the synopsis above may suggest, it delves into some very deep areas of what one’s own conscience will allow. Beyond the science fiction overtones, there exists at its core a simply human story. The only question here is, how does a well-intentioned person deal with one major horrifying mistake??
The concept of a duplicate Earth appearing in close proximity to our own planet is almost a backdrop… a secondary plotline to the entire film. Not to say it is not an effective Maguffin, far from it. But Cahill is a very assured director in this picture, not relying entirely on this Maguffin to tell his story. Without it, you still have a young girl almost soley responsible for destroying another person’s entire existence… killing his family and leaving him a shell of the man he once was.
Yet as if this was not enough, layers of moral ambiguity pile on after her release from jail. At some instances, it feels like you are slowly seeing another colossal collision about to occur It is difficult to determine in this review at which point plot discussion becomes spoiler, so I shall leave it at the point where Rhoda is on John’s doorstep wishing to apologise, yet loses her nerve and claims she is from a maid service. Who would think Burroughs would take her up on that offer.
I list only two cast in my above cast list, because though there are many supporting characters in this film, what is important is the interaction between Rhoda and John. Both are amazing in two very emotionally demanding roles. There is no question they are the leads in this film, and Cahill is blessed to have them both aid his vision to fruition.
This film is emotionally draining, and an absolute mind-f***. I only say this in the highest of praise. This is very intense drama for any audience so prepared for it. I cannot say enough good things about it.
5 stars out of 5