Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Russian Cosmonaut

Earlier this week a friend and I watched Another Earth which if you're unfamiliar is the story of a young woman, who on the eve of celebrating her admission into MIT's Astrophysics program kills a family in a drunk driving accident.  The same evening, the world simultaneously discovers that there is in fact another planet in our solar system, a blue planet.  Turns out it is a ... yep you guessed it, Another Earth that the powers that be very creatively call Earth 2.

Once released from her four year prison term, she takes a job as a janitor at a high school [brilliant nerdy kid working as a janitor, shades of Good Will Hunting folks] and works with Pagoda from The Royal Tenenbaums who has a brilliant if small role as the blind 'visionary' turned deaf after he pours bleach into his ears because "he sees himself everywhere".  She discovers that the father didn't die and has just woken up from a four year coma and that Earth 2 appears to be moving closer.  Consumed by guilt, she visits him wanting to apologize but chickens out at the last minute [because what the crap do you even say to someone whose family you murdered??] and says she's a cleaning lady soliciting new clients for Maid in Heaven.

This scene where Brit Marling describes The Russian Cosmonaut, like so much of the film, is so tender and delicate.

It comes to light that Earth 2 is the equivalent of an alternate or parallel universe and the inhabitants are mirror images of ourselves [which is about the point that I jokingly wondered why they didn't call the damn orb Htrea, Terre Deux or something just a little more original than Earth 2].  The young woman and the Widower engage in an affair and she wins a shuttle ticket to Earth 2 which she ends up giving to the Widower because it comes to light that once the two Earths became aware of each other the synchronicity of life events was broken.  It's suggested that maybe his dead pregnant wife and child may be alive on the other Earth.  He goes, she stays.

In the final scene she meets herself and is speechless.  The imagery is beautiful and helps saves the film from being one of those uber pretentious art house indie films that thinks by leaving things mysterious and nebulous it is somehow thought-provoking.  Also, Brit Marling is darling!  There I said it.  It's worth watching, just don't get pissy about the dearth of explanations and multiple cliff-hangers.

It's the ultimate form of self-indulgence but I'm still stumped... what would you say to another you?? 

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