A seventeen year-old girl has just been accepted to MIT. She’s happy. She gets a bit drunk. She gets behind the wheel of her car. The car radio cuts in with the news that another earth has just appeared in the sky – sort of a planetary doppelgänger (1Q84 anyone?). She looks up through her moon roof. Cut to a family at a stop light. Raise your hand if you have no idea what’s next. It does take a few moments though, so that there really is a modest amount of suspense. The suspense of when, not if. Uh-oh, there it is!
How she gets out of her car and is walking around from this head-on crash, and two other people are dead, a third in a coma…well, that’s not important. Why this other earth sitting right up there in the sky doesn’t play havoc with the tides….well, that’s not important. The film is not really interested in reasonable sci-fi or narrative reality for that matter. This holds in almost all respects.
Cut to four years later and she’s being released from prison. Her life, once promising, is in a shambles. She takes a job as a night janitor in a high school. Decides to look up the man (John, played by William Mapother who is now out of his coma) whose family she vehicular-manslaughtered. That’s about as far as I’ll go with that. Issues of redemption, second chances. Is the grass greener on the other side? On the other planet?
The film is rather poorly made, and the acting just seems off somehow. Yet the whole is a bit better than the sum of its parts. It’s not quite as bad as I’m making it out. There is one very good scene (the man whose family was killed was a well-regarded musician) invites the girl, Rhoda (Brit Marling) to an auditorium to hear him play. Not the piano, but the saw and bow. A very cool sound comes out of it and its an effective scene.
The elderly janitor Purdeep I just saw in another movie (The Terminal). It’s like he walked from one set to another. Actor Kumar Pallana plays the same obscurely philosophical character. Did I say he’s a janitor? Talk about type casting.
If you come to this for the sci-fi, I’d guess you’ll be sorely disappointed. But I’m not sure for what other reason you would come. The film is just missing something, and I don’t think the filmmakers had a real strong idea of which direction they wanted to take this. Borderline.