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by Peter Knegt
July 20, 2011 5:11 AM
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Critical Consensus: "Another Earth" Edges "American Sleepover" For Pick of The Week

Brit Marling and William Mapother in Mike Cahill's "Another Earth." Fox Searchlight.

In a tight race for the top rated film on criticWIRE, Mike Cahill's "Another Earth" edged out David Robert Mitchell's "The Myth of the American Sleepover" as the "pick of the week." "Earth" - a sci-fi drama being released this Friday via Fox Searchlight - was written by Cahill and Brit Marling, who is also the film's star and generally regarded as one of 2011's big indie breakouts. Marling plays Rhoda, a twenty-something on the brink of getting accepted to MIT. Just as she overhears on her car radio that a new planet has appeared in the sky, she inadvertently crashes into a van and kills two-thirds of the family on board. Cut to four years later, when Rhoda is released from jail and seeks out the one third of that family that remains in the midst of news that Earth is sending visitors to the new planet.

"Another Earth" averaged a B based on 18 reviews, including A-level scores care of folks at The Toronto Star, amNew York and Thompson on Hollywood. It topped "Sleepover"'s B- average, which also included a few A-level scores, including one from indieWIRE's own critic Eric Kohn, who takes on this week's releases below:

What if you discovered another you? That's the feeble philosophical query posed by "Another Earth," an admirably thoughtful if at times disappointingly one-note sci-fi parable. But it's also, in a much subtler and realistic fashion, posed by David Robert Mitchell's "The Myth of the American Sleepover," which plays off the teen nostalgia to which everyone familiar with the rite of passage to adulthood can relate.

In "Another Earth," which took Sundance by storm in January and surprised everyone by landing distribution with Fox Searchlight, a young woman forms a tricky relationship with the man she inadvertently widowed in a car accident. Meanwhile, a planet not unlike our own hovers provocatively in the sky, opening the door for ruminations about identity and second chances. In its final shot, the movie heads a wonderful direction, and its otherworldly set-up maintains a memorably haunting atmosphere. "Myth," engages with those questions in a far more realistic fashion, following an ensemble of youth during their final night of summer. In their case, however, the looming shadow of future decisions offers no handy exit strategy.

That's not to say "Another Earth" makes things easy, only that it adopts a simpler perspective on similarly abstract themes. It still beats out the facile Holocaust drama "Sarah's Key," also opening this week, which tries to make profound statements about cross-generational grief and repeatedly stumbles. Talk about living on another planet.

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "Another Earth," "The Myth of the American Sleepover," and others. Also offered is the top 10 criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by James Marsh's "Project Nim."

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Another Earth (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Myth of the American Sleepover (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Sarah's Key (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

A Little Help (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. Project Nim (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

3. Page One (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

4. Buck (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

5. Terri (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Submarine (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. The Trip (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. Passione (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

9. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

10. Tabloid (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Previous Picks of the Week:
July 13: Errol Morris' Tabloid
July 6: James Marsh's "Project Nim"
June 29: Azazel Jacobs' "Terri"
June 22: Rodman Fletcher's "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop"
June 15: Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times"
June 8: Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip"
June 1: Richard Ayoade's "Submarine"
May 25: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
May 18: Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris"
May 11: Lu Chaun's "City of Life and Death"
May 4: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar"
April 27: Clio Barnard's "The Arbor"
April 20: Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies"
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"

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