By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
While it seemed like this wasn’t quite as huge a year for the Sundance film festival as years past, several solid films and bona-fide career starters have emerged, especially Like Crazy, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and this film. While star and co-writer Brit Marling hasn’t received the awards circuit buzz that the other two films have given Felicity Jones and Elizabeth Olsen respectively, she’s already lining up some pretty good roles off of it.
Instead of Marlboro ads, like her name would suggest
A one sentence plot description- a young woman with a dark past enters a contest to visit Earth 2, a copy of our planet that now hangs in the sky next to the moon- would suggest a sci-fi film, but your enjoyment of this film likely hinges on your knowing that this is instead a character study that uses the sci-fi elements as an unusual narrative device.
Probably the most toast-worthy aspect of the film is that device, which is enthralling both in the gorgeous cinematography it factors so heavily in as well as the way it colors character decisions and prompts metaphysical ponderings.
Director Mike Cahill uses every shooting trick in his book to keep the visuals interesting, and Marling kills it as the film’s center. William Mapother, aka ‘that guy you didn’t know was Tom Cruise’s cousin but can kind of see it when you do’, plays the other main party in the film- the man whose life was torn apart when it intersected Marling’s years ago and who she now finds herself building a relationship with. He does a great job as well, almost good enough to make you forget this dick he played.
Yeah, that’s where you know him from
As good as the film’s look and style is, Cahill can sometimes lay the indie elements on a bit too thick. I can’t object too much to grainy footage of Marling dancing nude on an icy pond at midnight, but it does seem to teeter closer to ‘fartsy’ on the artsy-fartsy scale. You have to appreciate the ambition, but sometimes it’s better to save an idea or two for whatever film comes next.
A large part of what made me roll my eyes at this scene was the soaring violin in the background. This wasn’t the only time when the music was more intrusive than supportive. Another scene towards the end where Mapother plays a sawblade for Marling, which then serves as a backdrop for a montage of space images, particularly falls flat.
As appropriate as that would seem
Perhaps I’m just on a cynical streak lately, and you’ll love all of the tweeness, or maybe it’ll drive you completely crazy. Regardless, the beautiful visuals and strong acting make it an easy recommendation, and a little beer makes most things more tolerable.
Yeah honey! Spell the fuck out of that word!
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever you spot Earth 2
Take a Drink: for every reference to the accident
Drink a Shot: whenever the arthouse touches seem a bit thick