entering into conversation

I do not usually do two back to back posts on the same topic, but a friend of mine also posted on the film Another Earth on his blog, The Burner, here: http://theburnerblog.com/arts/sundance-movie-review-another-earth/

He pretty much panned the film, and I disagreed with him enough to basically write an entire post in response.  I posted it in the comments section there, and have re-posted it for you here.

Another opinion on Another Earth.

With respect, I have to offer a different opinion about the Sundance film, Another Earth.  And, to be fair, be warned that in order to do this, I may have to reveal more about the plot than one may wish to know before viewing the film.

Another Earth is indeed a mildly sci-fi film, built on the premise that a duplicate Earth has been discovered.  But this is not what the movie is about; it is merely the platform for a deeper question to be explored:  what is forgiveness, who do we need it from, and how do we get it?  As a people whose faith is cornered on the idea of forgiveness, this should be a very important topic for us.  Perhaps what one may find unsatisfying about this film, is that we don’t necessarily see anyone grant the forgiveness that Rhoda desperately needs.  Out of all the relationships we see in Rhoda’s life, we don’t really see anyone make an effort with her or for her—not even the family she returns home to. At times, even Rhoda seems to have thrown herself away; unforgivable, not worth engaging.   It would feel more satisfying to have just one scene where someone sits Rhoda down and tells her something inspiring about how there is forgiveness offered to her, and that she needs to learn how to forgive herself.

But that would be an entirely different film, and I think what Another Earth does offer us is worth a look, and worth our consideration.  If anything, this film offers us a chance to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who cannot forgive herself, but who desperately wants and needs that forgiveness.  Who can’t relate to that?  This film doesn’t give us a tidy monologue where our protagonist is finally convinced to let herself off the hook, or where she’s done enough penance of one kind or another to finally feel like she’s earned the right to let it go—the writers smartly avoided that trap, because (in my opinion) what ever they offered us would be unsatisfying. What they do offer us, in the very last moment (sorry to spoil it for you) is the hope of that redemption.  The last startling moment of the film, before the credits role, we do not get the relief we hope for but we are giving a final image that promises the possibility that everything for Rhoda can change.   The moment of hope that we are offered at the very end of this film, to me, is a little taste of the truly redemptive hope that we are offered in Christ.   For pastors and small group leaders, I would like to suggest that this film could be the catalyst for some beautiful conversations about some topics that may hit closer to home for your community than you expect.

Exiting this film, several questions struck me, that I think are quite relevant for anyone who claims to be involved in ministry:  Are we taking time to recognize the pain in the people around us? What is it that lives inside of us that may be willing to accept the forgiveness of others, even Christ, but not be willing to forgive ourselves?  What does it take to truly forgive?  What does it take for us to accept forgiveness offered?  What is at the root of unforgiveness?

I don’t mean to make this film sound like the cinematic event of the year for the world of faith-related film.  Indeed, the theological implications of this film are nestled a little more deeply than in other films, such as Butterfly Circus, or Higher Ground, and consequently, they may not be as profound—but I would caution against writing this film off completely.  Where you may find one congregant for whom the film does little, you might find it strikes a deep and painful cord for another.

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One thought on “entering into conversation

  1. Thanks for the response, Nicole! TB will say that he doesn’t feel like he panned the movie in the review, and did mention that Rhoda went through the gauntlet of penance and forgiveness.

    However, the distaste the movie left TB with did probably darken the review, but it’s only because a fine drama about forgiveness was undone by a fairly ludicrous sci-fi B story. Lose the obscure second Earth story and the movie would be better for it.

    Long live films about repentance!

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