Another Earth is a drama set with the backdrop of what could’ve been a compelling sci-fi movie.  Instead the movie focuses on a strange relationship between a orchestra conductor and a young woman that killed his wife and kid in a tragic car accident.

This movie is paced a lot like a play.  It’s slow, arduous and chock full of emoting from the lead actress and also writer/producer, Brit Marling.  Marling is a promising high school student that gets accepted to MIT.  But one night, driving back from a party drunk, she witnesses (along with the rest of the world) a second Earth appearing in the sky.  Distracted and/or drunk, she plows into the car of John (played by William Mapother) and kills his wife and young son.

(Some minor spoilers ahead)  Cut to four years later.  Marling (called Rhoda in the film) gets out of jail and tries to pick up the shattered remains of her life.  She takes a gig as a high school janitor to punish herself (which is kind of a backhanded insult to janitors, but whatever).  She eventually sees John leaving his kids toy at the intersection where the accident happened and this prompts Rhoda to first try and kill herself and then go to apologize.

The key moment happens when she goes to apologize, but rather than doing so, she lies and tells John she’s offering a free trial maid service.  John, who didn’t know the identity of the driver (because she was a minor at 17, which is a stretch if she served four years in prison), accepts the trial.  From then on, Rhoda continues to mislead John, while she helps him rebuild his shattered life.

Oh, and that second Earth thing.  That’s in the background.  There’s one cool scene where a doctor from SETI makes contact, but really, the sci-fi angle is just a metaphor for second-chances.

Despite a compelling opening, I was snoozing through most of this movie.  While my cinematographer friend thought it was genius and compelling, I couldn’t get past the fact that this woman would lie to a man whom she’d already so deeply wronged.  You know what’s harder than confessing to someone that you killed their wife and kids?  Lying to them about it.

To me, this felt like a contrivance to pump up the drama for the payoff at the end.  Ultimately, I felt cheated that the sci-fi element took such a back seat to what felt like an unrealistic drama.  I kept seeing glimpses of the movie I wanted to see, but that was happening somewhere off camera, far away from this depressing, lying protagonist.

I give Another Earth 3 out of 10 keggers.  If you want to see a movie about two earths, the best one is still Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.