Another Earth

  • Review Date: July 22, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Downbeat indie drama with sci-fi angle has mature themes.
  • Review Date: July 22, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 92 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character spends her time trying to figure out how to move on from a terrible accident, dealing with guilt and hopelessness, as well as small moments of hope. She finds her best chance through compassion and selflessness.

Positive role models

Rhoda makes a huge mistake -- drunk driving and killing a mother and child -- for which she cannot forgive herself; she spends four years in prison as well. For these reasons, she can't be considered a great role model, even though she works to make a positive new life for herself. She alternates between small moments of hope and big moments of hopelessness, but she does begin to find that compassion and selflessness have their rewards.


The movie begins with a terrible car crash with blood and dead bodies (including the body of a young boy). The main character tries to kill herself. Some shouting and arguing, and, in one scene, a man briefly tries to choke a woman. A secondary character is seen in the hospital, the result of having poured bleach in his ears.


The main characters have sex, but no nudity is shown. Brief kissing between minor characters. The main character appears semi-nude when she tries to commit suicide, but only her rear end is really visible.


"My God" (as an exclamation).


The main character does a Google search and almost buys a package of Gummi Bears.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character gets into a serious drunk driving accident, though she's not shown to have a drinking problem. She drinks wine later in the film. The movie begins at a party, with brief flashes of teens drinking (and possibly doing drugs). Another major character seems to be drunk much of the time, though he's not seen drinking; viewers see half-empty bottles around his house. A teen boy mentions "getting high."

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.)

Overall, the film's genuinely touching side overpowers the hackneyed stuff. Aside from the lofty, thoughtful subtext surrounding the drama, Cahill and Marling zoom in for a nicely focused set of characters and performances. Marling is in nearly every shot, and she's magnetic, conveying a lifetime's worth of hurt and beauty. Likewise, Kumar Pallana -- best known for his supporting roles in Wes Anderson's films -- provides some small, lovely, thoughtful moments. 

Families can talk 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?


Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 22, 2011
DVD release date:November 29, 2011
Cast:Brit Marling, Kumar Pallana, William Mapother
Director:Mike Cahill (II)
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:disturbing images, some sexuality, nudity and brief drug use

This review of Another Earth was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 10 year old Written byssaustin1999 February 19, 2012

2.5 stars? Better for Adults

I would caution parents that this film is really for adults or mature teenagers. Although the film does serve as a strong caution against drunk driving,the gruesome car crash, sex, and attempted suicide may be too much for some young people. As the other review here mentions, the characters never make it to "another earth", but the ideas presented are somewhat interesting (if a parallel earth existed, what would it be like to meet yourself? what would you say? would you even recognize yourself? what are the implications for the two earths if the citizens meet? etc.) If you're letting your kids watch it, be ready to answer a lot of questions.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bymadelineshadowrose January 16, 2012

sad no good let down movie

this movie was a disapontment we (my family) expected a si-fi film not a romance the begining was horable this guy was playing with his son and then out of no where a car slams into him (we see his dead wife and son we later learn the wife was pregnet with a girl) then they later fall in lover they dident even go to the other earth.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bypoe-ette February 25, 2012

Unique, emotional, strong moral dilemmas....

Not much dialogue, deep, depressing ending
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex


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