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The Edge of Life

Space has always fascinated me.  I’ve probably spent more time pondering what may or may not be out there, and dreaming about seeing what outer space is with my own eyes, than most other endeavors in my life.  So, it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to science fiction of all mediums.   I’ll be honest; I’m a sucker for the blockbuster sci-fi flick.  For example, one of the movies my father made sure I saw was Jaws.  Now, to this day, if I see Jaws on any channel I immediately stop on it.  But as much as I loved it, in the back of my mind it is always one of my dad’s films.  The first movie, albeit technically before my time, that I latched onto was Aliens.  I claim to hate horror movies, yet I love Alien, which at its heart is a horror movie.  Its sequel, Aliens though was much more of a war movie; James Cameron drew inspiration from stories of the Vietnam War to develop one of the best sequels ever.  Something about the xenomorphs drew me in…and made me a sci-fi fan forever.

Naturally, the delight that movies from the Alien franchise gave me led to a greater interest in sci-fi that resulted in me reading more books and watching more movies than I would have had I never caught the bug.  Yet, even branching out in the way I thought I was, I limited my exposure of the genre to the famous space operas like Star Wars.  It wasn’t until I saw Another Earth that I realized I didn’t know a damn thing about science fiction.

Frankly, Another Earth turned the sci-fi genre on its head.  This is a film that scored at indy festivals across the globe because it showed that it was possible to make sci-fi without insane budgets and Michael Bay level special effects.  Another Earth reaches down into the heart of what all sci-fi is about: the human condition.

The movie opens with actress/writer Brit Marling playing Rhoda Williams.  Rhoda is a brilliant young woman, on her way to MIT.  In fact, she just found out that her years of work in high school have paid off with a scholarship and she’s out celebrating.  On the same night, a heavenly orb that looks very much like Earth is revealed in the sky, capturing her imagination and setting off the chain of events that shape not only Rhoda, but her friends and family, as they adjust to this monumental discovery.  As Rhoda drives home from her celebration, she is so mesmerized by this new Earth and the spirits she enjoyed during the party that she takes her eyes off the road…

What follows is an amazing story about how we cope with bad decisions and loss.  About what might have been.  While the entirety of the planet attempts to discover what this 2nd Earth really is, Rhoda is battling the demons of her past.  These paths culminate by forcing us to look at ourselves from without, and the actions we take to rectify decisions deemed “wrong.”  It forces you to honestly answer the question, “If you had the chance to meet yourself, what would you ask?”

I seriously recommend the film to everyone, especially if you’re not a sci-fi fan.  The most beautiful thing about Another Earth, is its ability to use science fiction not as a crutch to build a story around, but as a medium to ask the larger questions about what makes us who we are: insanely flawed creatures who can’t help but cling to the past because we know we used to be better, yet undeservedly hopeful that the best is yet to come.  No matter what type of movies you’re into, there’s something you’ll love in Another Earth.

It’s funny.  I thought I’d be writing about how good of a science fiction movie it is, but in reality I’m just writing about how good of a movie it is.  Period.