When writers Brit Marling and Mike Cahill began working on ideas for a screenplay, they started with a simple question, what would it be like to meet yourself? They But while the idea was intriguing, it wasn’t enough to build a film. They pushed further: What is the one thing that you would want from that encounter with your other self? They answer they came up with is perhaps the hardest thing: Forgiveness.
Although categorized as science fiction, Another Earth refrains from excessive special effects or plot lines that test one’s tolerance of the fantastic. Instead, it is the simple story of a young girl who has to face the consequences of a devastatingly simple mistake. Coming home from a party, young Rhoda has been celebrating her admittance to MIT in the fall. Distracted by an announcement on the radio that a new planet has been discovered in our solar system, she leans out of the window as she is driving home, to get a better look. What she doesn’t see, however, is the young family stopped at the stoplight just ahead. Four years later, Rhoda emerges from prison, not MIT, with a record rather than a degree, and a tremendous burden of guilt. She has served her time to society, but it is clear that not a day of it has served her in terms of her own guilt.
Another Earth is a beautiful and moving examination of what we do to ourselves and the people around us in and through our guilt. Guilt and forgiveness is such a tremendously universal topic of the human experience, and for some reason, films about these topics gravitated to the Sundance film festival this year. Another Earth handled the question beautifully, leaving room for the possibility that although we can pay for our mistakes, and gain the much-needed absolution we need from others, we still have to offer and except forgiveness to ourselves.