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Film / Another Earth

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Another Earth is a 2011 independent Science Fiction film directed by Mike Cahill and written by Cahill and leading actress Brit Marling. It was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It is about the discovery of a duplicate of planet Earth and its effects on the lives of two people.

Rhoda Williams is a young woman who has just been accepted in MIT. She has a great future ahead of her, but after celebrating by drinking, she has a car accident when she is distracted by the sight of a planet in the sky that resembles Earth. The struck car belongs to a composer named John Burroughs, and his wife and children die in the crash. He himself is left in a coma.

The vision in the sky isn't an illusion; somehow, a duplicate of Earth, with the same people as well, has appeared near our planet, leading to worldwide shock and interest. But the story focuses on Rhoda's and John's lives. Rhoda spends four years in prison for the incident, ruining her life. John recovers but falls into despair. Wracked with guilt, Rhoda finds John, but doesn't tell him who she is. Slowly, they start bonding.

A further twist comes in the way of a contest to earn passage in a spaceship that will visit the Other Earth.

Tropes in Another Earth:

  • Accidental Murder: Rhoda, while DUI, crashes her car into John's killing his entire family but John himself.
  • Alien Sky: Actually, it's Earth's sky with another Earth in it.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: Sort of. Just before the movie ends, we see Rhoda meeting herself. They don't say a word before the credits roll, so the details of whose Earth we're on, the differences between their lives, and what's happened in the 4 months since the launch are not specified. However, it seems likely that Rhoda's theory was right - Rhoda 2 never hit John 2's family, so there was nothing holding her back from coming to Earth 1 and meeting Rhoda 1.
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • The other Earth is always portrayed as "full" in the sky during the day (the way the Moon is full). It would have to stay on the night side of Earth to do that unless it was only being viewed at sunrise and sunset.
    • A second planet of Earth-size in our very balanced solar system really would throw all the other orbits in the inner solar system off.
    • Even if the planet had been hiding behind the Sun the whole time before it appeared we would have already been able to infer it from its effect on the other orbits in the inner solar system.
    • If a planet of that size were coming that close to Earth people would be more worried about a collision.
    • Ocean tides here on Earth are the result of the moon pulling on the Earth. Another Earth so close as to be bigger than the moon in the sky would send ocean tides over huge swaths of populated land.
    • And if it's that close, our own moon would have crashed into it.
  • The Atoner: Rhoda.
  • At the Crossroads: What to do with the ticket.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rhoda and John never ended up together. However, since the former gave up her spot for the latter to go to the other Earth, there are chances that John at least has forgiven Rhoda, which was implied in their final scene.
  • Broken Bird: Both Rhoda and John because of the former's Accidental Murder of the latter's family.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Rhoda passes one, complete with sandwich board and tinfoil hat.
  • Convenient Coma: So John can't recognize his family's killer.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: The other earth, right out there in the sky.
  • Counter-Earth: Sort of.
  • Death by Origin Story: John's family.
  • Death of a Child: Not only did Rhoda accidentally kill John's 5-year old son, but she also (accidentally) killed his wife, who was pregnant at the time.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: As expected, Rhoda telling John the truth gave an instant death-spell to their budding romance.
  • Fan Disservice: Rhoda taking her clothes off in the middle of winter, trying to kill herself by freezing to death while naked. At first it almost feels like very beautiful, stunning, almost poetic Fanservice and then you realize she's trying to kill herself and it becomes all the more painful to watch.
  • Get Out!: After Rhoda confessed to John about the accident, he kicked her out of his house, even saying this trope word-per-word.
  • Heroic BSoD: John has one when Rhoda reveals that she was the one that killed his family.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Rhoda and Purdeep eventually develop one. She also had this dynamic with John until Relationship Upgrade kicks in.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Inverted.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Rhoda deliberately isolates herself from other people after serving her sentence.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rhoda after seeing the aftermath of the accident caused by her.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: John's sad fate.
  • The Place: Though the titular Earth-2 wasn't featured. Probably.
  • Point of View: Lampshaded in-universe.
    John: You think they call us "Earth One"?
  • The Reveal: Rhoda's counterpart had a successful life.
  • Self-Harm: We learn Purdeep had blinded himself and during the movie deafened himself.
  • Shout-Out: "Earth-2" sounds familiar.
  • Snow Means Death: Invoked with Rhoda's attempted suicide. She stripped down naked and lay down in the snow so she'd freeze to death, but was eventually saved.
  • Time Skip: The movie skips four years after the prologue.
  • Tragic Keepsake: To John, the clothes of his deceased family, particularly a red sweater. He was also seen leaving his son's favorite toy robot at the accident site.
  • Trivial Title: Not a single character actually makes it to the titular other Earth on-screen. And few are also televised.
  • Twist Ending
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out what the tapping noise was in Rhoda's cosmonaut story.
  • Would Hit a Girl: John almost choked Rhoda to death after she went back to his house hours after she confessed about her role in his family's death.