A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this downbeat, low-budget indie drama (with sci-fi undertones) revolves around a severe drunk-driving accident and the two survivors' ensuing attempts to get through life. There's some teen drinking, as well as sporadic drinking throughout and mentions/brief images of drugs. The central car crash has some graphic images, with blood and dead bodies (including the body of a little boy); viewers can also expect threats, yelling, a suicide attempt, and a brief attempted choking. There's one sex scene (no nudity), and one scene in which the main character lies naked in the snow (only her rear end is shown).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After celebrating her acceptance into MIT, Rhoda (Brit Marling) is driving home, drunk, when she hears on the radio news of a new planet; it has an atmosphere and water and continents and is visible to the naked eye. While peering into the night sky, she crashes into a stopped car, killing a mother and son and sending the father into a coma. Four years later, Rhoda gets out of jail and decides to visit the man, composer John Burroughs (William Mapother), to apologize. At the last second, she loses her courage and tells a lie about working for a cleaning company. They slowly get to know each other and bring hope back into each other's lives. But what happens when the truth comes out, and what's the secret behind the other earth?
Is it any good?
Marling and director Mike Cahill teamed up to write this screenplay, cleverly weaving a science-fiction element -- the concept of an alternate earth -- into the drama. That idea works beautifully, and it adds new layers of questions about who we are, our destiny, etc. This is most welcome, since the movie's main plot is pretty creaky. Like the laziest of Hollywood romantic comedies, it's based on the stretching of a lie. (Rhoda must convince John that she's just a cleaning lady rather than the driver who killed his family.)
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violent scenes. How does their impact compare to what you see in bigger sci-fi/action movies? What is the purpose of the graphic scenes in this movie?
What would it mean to visit an alternate earth? Would you want to meet yourself? Are there any decisions you'd change if you could?
How does the movie portray drinking and its consequences?
- In theaters: July 22, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: November 29, 2011
- Cast: Brit Marling, Kumar Pallana, William Mapother
- Director: Mike Cahill (II)
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing images, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use