I, Origins

August 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Michael Pitt, Astrid Bergés-Frisbey, Brit Marling
Directed by: Mike Cahill (“Another Earth”)
Written by : Mike Cahill (“Another Earth”)

As many moviegoers who jump on board with everything director/writer Mike Cahill pitches to them in his new independent sci-fi drama/romance “I, Origins,” there are bound to be just as many who scream foul. Cahill isn’t the type of filmmaker who spells things out for audiences. Once they enter the black hole of this particular film’s narrative, there’s really no way to crawl out of it. Ask Cahill for help and he’s bound to be standing over you, shovel in hand, digging deeper.

Thematically, “I, Origins” is the type of film that could be considered implausible for people who walk into the theater with a mind closed to the possibility that not everything they believe on a spiritual front is true. With a number of recently released movies that have already catered to those who take their religious beliefs at face value (“God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven is for Real,” “Son of God”), a film like “I, Origins” might rub a few the wrong way just like Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of “Noah” did back in March. (How fictional rock monsters are more fantastically absurd than Biblical talking snakes, I have no idea).

Still, Cahill has something to say and, despite the fact he doesn’t define or categorize anything with much initiative, he does present a number of complex ideas for people to sift through and come up with their own theories. If you can stand to do a little work (and aren’t the kind of moviegoer that automatically disregards clashing and sometimes convoluted theories as pretentious banter), then “I, Origins” just might be a film to deem beautiful, uplifting and philosophically deep.

In the film, actors Michael Pitt and Brit Marling play two molecular biologists, Ian and Karen, whose research leads them to believe that God may not exist based on experiments they are conducting on worms. As far-fetched as that may sound to some, Cahill carefully crafts his script around a peculiar love story between Ian and an exotic woman, Sofi (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey) whose eyes become the catalyst for Ian’s lofty hypotheses – one that will disprove creationists worldwide.

Extremely ambitious all around, save for Pitt’s static performance, “I, Origins” not only explores the idea that a higher power does not exist, it also delves into topics like soul mates and déjà vu and everyday coincidences (like looking at a clock at the exact time it changes to 11:11). It’s a smart film that covers its bases and plays out like a mystery as Ian travels across the world searching for answers that may never come.

With Cahill in the driver’s seat, you can definitely bet on those answers not being served on a sliver platter. And that’s not a bad thing at all. If you like your movies wrapped up neatly with a nice little bow, “I, Origins” is going to be a tough one to get through. For everyone else, there hasn’t been a more thought-provoking film this year.

Brit Marling & Alexander Skarsgård – The East

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

In Zal Batmanglij’s thriller “The East,” actress Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) plays Sarah Moss, a covert operative for a private intelligence firm who infiltrates an anarchist group known as The East that uses extreme means to hold corporations accountable for their shady practices. Actor Alexander Skarsgård (“What Maisie Knew”) plays Benji, the group’s charming leader who allows Sarah to join the collective and help them carry out their eye-for-an-eye tactics.

During interviews with me at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, Marling and Skarsgård discussed why a film like “The East” will resonate with today’s audience and whether doing something illegal for the greater good is a justifiable act.

Brit, tell us about the adventure you and director Zal Batmanglij had living out a vagabond lifestyle.

Brit Marling: This was a couple of years ago. Zal and I were looking for adventure and trying to figure out how we wanted to live our lives. We were very interested in the freegan movement and what would later be known as Occupy Wall Street. Back then, it was all still a grey area. We spent some time traveling and met a lot of really cool people and were really moved by them and what they were doing. I learned how to pick locks and dumpster dive and train hop. A couple years later, we really couldn’t shake that experience, so we wrote [“The East”] and got to make a movie out of it.

Issues like the BP oil spill and Occupy Wall Street really aren’t the headlines in the news anymore, but were you hopeful a film like this would still resonate with an audience because some of the other topics you cover in the film are so timely?

BM: Yeah, I think oddly enough the film has become more prescient. The film is talking about how far someone would go in fighting for a cause. There is a lot to fight for right now. The environment is totally falling apart. There seems to be a rise in general mental un-wellness. Everybody’s on a pharmaceutical of some kind. All of the things Occupy Wall Street was protesting were still a problem. Nothing has been fixed, actually. People start consuming again and things move on. The East is like, “Fuck that shit! We’re going to hold people accountable.” I think it’s very pressing.

Alex, do you think dialogue is enough? I mean, Occupy movements happen and people talk and educate one another, but we go back to doing the same things after everything is said and done. Your character Benji doesn’t think it’s enough.

Alexander Skarsgard: Well, what makes Benji, my character, upset are that these big corporations have so much money and so much power and all these lobbyists. They basically control Washington. They’re never held accountable for what they do. He feels like it’s not fair and he wants to hold people accountable and wake them up and make them realize what they’re doing. What I found so intriguing about this script was that it’s such a complicated question. I didn’t know where I stood when I read it and I didn’t know where Brit and Zal stood. It was complicated. Benji has always held an eye-for-an-eye philosophy, but he questions himself when Sarah shows up because she’s tough and asks uncomfortable questions. I always hate movies where it feels the filmmakers are trying to shove his or her opinions down my throat. It’s always more interesting when the film makes you think and question things. How far are you willing to go? If you can save 10,000 people is it OK to kill someone? What is justifiable?

Some people might compare your character to the cult leader John Hawkes plays in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” but I though his character ruled the roost through fear. I didn’t see that in your character.

Yeah, he says that very early on. He is very adamant that he doesn’t have any followers. Everyone had equal value. He is very much against the idea that Sarah is going to come on board. But [the group] votes and he accepts that. So, it’s a real democracy.

Brit, how prevalent do you think these types of organizations are out there?

I definitely think they are out there. I think they are growing in numbers. I think they are incredibly brave groups of people. I think a lot of us share the same feelings and sense of politics, but we don’t live them as radically. I mean, I understand the conflict of where gas comes from to put in my car to get to the grocery store. I know the real price of that gasoline isn’t the price I pay at the pump. A lot of people die for that. There are a lot of those thinly disguised things going on that we choose not to look at in order to live our lives in the way we do. I think a lot of people are wrestling with the question of what the end game of that will look like. Is it getting to a place where it’s all going to fall apart?

The East

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page
Directed by: Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”)
Written by: Zal Batmanglij (“The Sound of My Voice”) and Brit Marling (“Another Earth”)

If you’ve ever wanted to live off the grid – just disappear one day and survive by adopting an anti-consumerist lifestyle – take a look at director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”) and actress/co-writer Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) who did exactly that in the Summer of 2009. They’re little adventure together (dumpster diving and hopping trains) would later inspire them to write the screenplay for “The East,” a high-intensity espionage thriller with an eco-friendly message of sorts. While “The East” only scratches the surface of its eco-agenda, it manages to draw some blood when it matters.

Marling stars as Sarah Moss, a former FBI agent turned private intelligence operative who is assigned to a little covert work by her boss (Patricia Clarkson) to protect the companies their firm represents. There’s an anarchist collective known as the East starting trouble for their clients and it’s up to Sarah to find the individuals responsible and infiltrate their group to gather information.

While the script allows Sarah to find who she is looking for a bit too easily, it’s when anarchist members start to trust her that the drama begins to boil over. Included in the group is Benji (Alexander Skarsgard), a charismatic and enigmatic group leader who allows Sarah (now calling herself Jane as part of her undercover mission) into their lair, much to the dismay of Izzy (Ellen Page), a longtime eco-terrorist who trusts no one.

Nevertheless, Sarah is able to weasel her way in and uncover what the East is doing. For example, early in the film the group holds a big oil company’s CEO responsible for spilling millions of gallons of crude into the ocean (think BP oil disaster of 2006) responsible by flooding his home with petroleum. It’s through these “jams” (attacks that are a bit more thought-provoking than, say, what Project Mayhem does in “Fight Club”) where the East is trying to make a social statement.

What Batmanglij does with “The East,” however, isn’t making any broad declarations about the state of America and what we as a country are allowing to happen by turning our backs on certain problems. Batmanglij points many of them out, but gives his audience a chance to figure it out for themselves. Can the East justify their actions because they’re doing it for the greater good? We may not get the answers were looking for but Batmanglij and Marling find fascinating ways to ask tough questions about issues that are many times swept under the rug.

“The East” was screened at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival.

The Company You Keep

April 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie
Directed by: Robert Redford (“The Conspirator”)
Written by: Lem Dobbs (“Haywire”)

It might flaunt the most impressive cast top to bottom you’re likely to see this year on the big screen (21 Oscar nominations, 4 wins), but the script behind Oscar-winning director Robert Redford’s political thriller “The Company You Keep” can only lead its actors just far enough before they’re let down by the material.

It really is unfortunate since Redford, who earned an Academy Award for directing in 1981 for “Ordinary People,” comes into the project with a lot of the pieces already in place. This should be a more intriguing look into the radical leftist organization known as the Weather Underground in the late 60s and early 70s, but it falters. The revolutionary group, whose members were charged during that time for bombing a number of sites such as the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, were hell-bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

In “Company,” Redford stars as Jim Grant, a New York City lawyer and former activist of the Weathermen, who has been living as a fugitive for the last 30 years after a bank heist he is involved in during his heyday claims the life of a guard. Jim is flushed from his quiet suburban home when one of his former Weather Underground colleagues Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is finally found and arrested for her involvement in the radical movement. Her arrest triggers a domino effect that leads to Jim’s participation in the crime. Now on the run with the FBI and media (Shia LaBeouf plays a scrappy newspaper reporter who cracks the case) on his trail, Jim hits the road in search of a way to clear his name.

Based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gordon, “Company” is a sort of slowly-paced road-trip movie where tons of characters join the fracas, but none are very important to the overall narrative. It’s great to see the likes of heavy-hitters like Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Nick Nolte and Stanley Tucci tag in and out like some kind of all-star contest, but the substance behind each of their individual connections to the story is thinly scripted.

The acting makes up slightly for the film’s lack of tension. We’re not looking for car chases and extensive getaway scenes here, but Redford’s inability to draw out more emotional conflict from the script is its greatest letdown. There just aren’t enough big moments the talent can sink their claws into. “Company” is never boring, but it also never shifts out of first gear, which poses a major problem when you have a fugitive on the run and a lot at stake.

Arbitrage

September 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling
Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki (“The Outsider”)
Written by: Nicholas Jarecki (“The Informers”)

For the everyman, it’s fairly easy to hit a nerve when trying to explain exactly what happened on Wall St. in 2008 that led to the U.S. economic downfall. Greedy men making questionable deals with each other for millions without really even lifting a finger would make any hardworking American wonder how these people at the top can sleep at night. It’s the reason it’s so effortless to vilify the lead character in “Arbitrage,” a dramatic thriller that takes a page from a really good episode of Law & Order.

In “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere (“Chicago”) plays Robert Miller, a corrupt hedge-fund investor who is so busy making deals he doesn’t have time to pick out his grandkids’ birthday gifts. He’s also cheating on his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon), which doesn’t help when trying to find at least one redeeming quality about him. At 60, Robert is selling his company although his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), who is also the CFO of the firm, questions the real motive behind such an unusual move for her father. The reason is simple: Robert is swindling the system and down $412 million. If he doesn’t sell, he will go belly up. Business and pleasure collide with each other when a tragic event with his mistress forces him to do the unthinkable.

Once “Arbitrage” gets into the thick of things, it’s never boring. Even with scene-chewing characters like Tim Roth’s sharp-minded Det. Michael Bryer, the film is interesting enough to hold one’s attention. But once out of the theater, it is evident there’s nothing truly memorable or even really noteworthy of the film that hasn’t been done before in any number of police procedurals. The production value might be 10 times as large as a TV show like USA’s White Collar, but both are operating on a small-scale state of mind.

Brit Marling – Sound of My Voice

May 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the independent thriller “Sound of My Voice,” actress and screenwriter Brit Marling plays Maggie, the leader of an underground cult, who draws in new members by telling them she is a time traveler from the future. When two members, Peter and Lorna, join the group, Maggie calls upon them to help her solve her mysterious background.

During an interview with me, Marling, 29, talked about the theme of doubt she presents in the film and whether she ever thinks about what the future holds.

Where did you find inspiration to play someone as enigmatic and influential as Maggie? She really is a profound character.

It’s interesting because we wanted to write about a female cult leader, but we didn’t know what that would really look like. In a lot of our research on the Jonestown massacre and David Koresh, we found there are many more famous male cult leaders than there are women. It was fun to daydream on that and think about how a woman might hold a group together in a way that would be different. A lot of it came together when I realized how multifaceted Maggie is. There are moments where she is motherly and tender and in the next instant she is vicious. You can never really get a handle on her. Writing the character and then getting the opportunity to play her was a lot of fun and actually quite intimidating.

Like your film last year “Another Earth,” “Sound of My Voice” allows audiences to come to their own conclusions at the end of the film. As a writer, is that a conscious decision you make during the writing process?

Actually, I think this movie has a very closed ending. I think this is Peter’s story and he goes through a very traditional arch from being one way and then having a deeper revelation. I think this movie is about faith. With faith you have to decide to believe or not believe without proof. That’s sort of what faith is. We have to stay true to that.

Do you believe doubt is a natural human reaction when we’re presented with new or unusual ideas?

Yeah, I think [director] Zal [Batmanglij] and I were feeling a lot of doubt when we were making this. I think that worked its way into the script. We’re in L.A. and I want to act and Zal wants to direct, but we didn’t know where to start. It’s better to just start writing if you want to act and direct. I didn’t know if we were capable of doing it. We were filled with doubt and anxiety all the time. Also, this is a story about a cult and I think independent filming has sort of become a kind of cult. I was working with a group of people who are all devoted to this one story that is like this higher power and everyone surrenders to it. You’re together in a very intense way for a period of time. I think we really get a sense of purpose by connecting with one another. So much of modern-day life is so profoundly alienating. I think in a cult you can surrender the loneliness and be part of a collective group. All of those ideas worked their way into the story.

Do you think about the future and what’s in store for all of us or do you choose to live day by day?

I think about the future all the time. I think I may think about it a little too much, actually. I’m worried for us. I think that’s an undercurrent that is everywhere in our society. I think everybody is looking at how the world is structured right now and thinking, “Well, this is obviously unsustainable.” We can’t keep growing indefinitely on a planet with dwindling resources. How is this gap between extreme wealth and poverty going to keep going? It’s such a strange time to be alive. I think even though we all feel the world is sort of immaculately constructed, it also feels like a sweater where you can just pull on one thread and the whole thing unravels. We could find ourselves living in a reality where you can’t just get into your SUV and drive to the grocery store anymore and load it up. As Maggie says, “We may be growing gardens in our garages.” She seems to be preparing people for a very different future. But maybe the other side of it isn’t as bad as we think. When I think about the future, I always think about a soldier going across the battlefield in WWI and all of a sudden coming across an iPod. He would think it was a device from an alien race. He probably couldn’t even conceive of the idea of turning it on or that music would come out of it. So, I can’t even conceive of some of the things we will be capable of five years from now let alone three decades from now.

Since following your career over the last couple of years, it seems like you are breaking out in a really big way. I just saw you on the cover of Vanity Fair’s April issue alongside Academy Award-nominated actresses Jessica Chastain (“The Help”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”), and Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) with the words “Introducing the Fresh Young Stars of 2012.” In your next three movies, you’ll be working with the likes of Oscar winners Susan Sarandon and Robert Redford, and Oscar nominees Tim Roth, Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, just to name a few. That has to be surreal for you after only two indie films.

What is most exciting to me about all that is that there are an incredible number of really talented, unusual, young leading ladies. Five years ago the landscape seemed open. Then, suddenly, these young interesting women are popping up and they seem very different from how we generally think of actresses. They seem from a millennial generation. I’m not sure what that means yet exactly, but maybe they will all tell us from the roles they choose and the stories they will be a part of. I feel moved to be in that company of these women. I’ve been inspired by a lot of their work.

Sound of My Voice

May 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling
Directed by:  Zal Batmanglij (debut)
Written by: Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) and Zal Batmanglij (debut)

Aside from the fact that most head doctors regard a majority of them as having a few bats in their belfry, cult leaders — whether factual or fictional — usually share similar attributes with one another in their attempt to convince committed followers to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. From disturbing leaders of the past like Jim Jones and David Koresh to cinematic ones like John Hawkes’ intimidating alpha male in last year’s compelling film “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” the men (and, yes, most are men) in these positions of power have some pretty persuasive personalities that allow them to rule the roost.

It’s one of the reasons why when female cult leader Maggie (Brit Marling) is introduced in the independent thriller “Sound of My Voice,” there is automatic intrigue that comes along with the uncharacteristic role simply because it’s not something seen too often in film or the real religious underground. Maggie, however, is more than a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty. Like any of the leading men who have come before her, the illogical explanations and information she offers to gain the trust of her congregation is believable because Maggie makes believers out of everyone. Part sci-fi phenom, part subtle intimidator, she is the strongest asset of an otherwise indecisive and transparent film.

Meeting Maggie for the first time in “Sound of My Voice” are Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), a couple in the San Fernando Valley whose sudden interest in investigative journalism leads them to a bizarre group of sanitized, hospital gown-wearing devotees and their ambiguous queen bee. Upon infiltrating the cult to secretly record its inner workings for a documentary, Peter and Lorna learn that Maggie, a self-proclaimed time traveler from 2054, has journeyed to the present day to prepare her selected sect for the coming apocalypse. Meanwhile in another part of L.A., an odd little girl spends her time playing alone in her room with black Legos. The separate stories don’t cross paths until much later in the narrative and the big reveal isn’t as clever as one would hope.

“Sound of My Voice” isn’t so much about a cult as it is about a cult leader and her followers’ willingness to accept what she is saying as the truth. None of the cult members beside Maggie are fascinating in the least bit and their mission is about as vague as a modern-day scientologist’s explanation of Xenu and the Galactic Confederacy. If these men and women were gathering in the basement of a house to play Parcheesi rather than sharing spiritual beliefs and putting their fearless leader on a pedestal, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

With a script written by Marling (her inspired sci-fi drama “Another Earth” released last year, which she also wrote and starred in, is infinitely better) and first-time director Zal Batmanglij, “Sound of My Voice” will capture one’s imagination in smaller doses much like an episode of the original “Twilight Zone.” Dragged out into feature form, however, reveals just how little substance there is behind all the strange characters and existential discourse.

Another Earth

August 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach
Directed by: Mike Cahill (“Boxers and Ballerinas”)
Written by: Mike Cahill (“Boxers and Ballerinas”) and Brit Marling (“Sound of My Voice”)

In the new sci-fi drama “Another Earth,” lead actress, co-writer and co-producer Brit Marling stars as Rhoda Williams, an intelligent young woman whose future is thrown off course when she is involved in a tragic car accident that kills a mother and two children. After spending four years in jail, Rhoda rejoins society in a world that has gone through some mystifying changes during her incarceration.

A new planet has appeared in the sky that, like earth, can sustain life. In fact, the planet seems to be an exact replica of earth, so much so people begin to call it Earth 2. Along with this unique science fiction story, there is an affecting drama at the center of this film. Rhoda is faced with a moral dilemma when she seeks out the father of the family she killed and finds a broken man still grief-stricken from his heartbreaking loss.

In an attempt to help shoulder the pain, Rhoda comes into the life of John (William Mapother), a former Yale music professor, under false pretense. She poses as a maid from a cleaning company who is offering a free trial service. Soon, she is returning to John’s home every week and in her own small way begins to help him put his life back in order.

All the while, this other planet still hovers over earth as a reminder that there is more to life than what we’ve always known. Could Earth 2 be a new start for Rhoda if she were to ever make it to its surface? Who would she come into contact with when she landed? Could a new life be the only way she could find happiness and redemption for the mistakes she made?

First-time feature film director Mike Cahill explores sorrowful and complex themes in the same way other intimate sci-fi movies like “Solaris” and “Moon” do. While some of the ideas are fairly lofty, Cahill and Marling, both credited as screenwriters, have made a existential picture that confronts thought-provoking questions and leaves them open-ended for audiences to decide for themselves.

“Another Earth” isn’t the type of film for those who like their sci-fi loud and dense. It’s a profound, minimal, and understated journey to dark places found in the ever-changing universe and the human psyche.

Brit Marling – Another Earth

August 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

If given the opportunity to meet an exact replica of herself, actress/co-writer/co-producer Brit Marling wouldn’t think twice.

“I would absolutely want to,” Marling told me during an exclusive interview about her new sci-fi drama “Another Earth.” “I would be too curious. I think it would lead you to some insight, to some deeper understanding of who we are and what we’re doing here.”

In her new film, Marling plays Rhoda Williams, a young woman released from jail for a tragic mistake she makes and discovers life as she once knew it would never be the same.

During our interview, Marling talked about how her and director/co-writer Mike Cahill tackled the writing process of a story steeped in so much mystery and emotion and the reason she never judges a character she is about to portray in a movie.

I love these types of intimate science fiction films like “Solaris” and “Moon.” Am I correct to assume you’re of the same opinion as I am and believe not all sci-fi films have to feature giant robots and huge special effects to tell an intriguing story?

I couldn’t agree with you more. I think really great sci-fi stories use the science fiction as a way of telling you something you haven’t seen or heard before in a human relationship. Those are the kind of sci-fi movies I like. I’m glad to know you like those, too. I love “Solaris” and I love “12 Monkeys” and all those movies.

You hit a lot of themes in this movie like grief, redemption and forgiveness. When you sit down with director/writer Mike Cahill to write a script like this, where do you have to be emotionally?

At the time, I think from the writing perspective we were trying to inhabit all the characters. You spend a while thinking and feeling from Rhoda’s perspective and then from John’s perspective. The state I think we were during a lot of that was questioning forgiveness. How do you forgive yourself? How do you forgive someone else? I think there was also a sense of wonder. There is this vast unknown out there, this manifestation in the sky; this other earth. I think we were grappling with that as our characters were, too.

It must have been difficult to play a character like Rhoda. There seems to be so much emotion running through her, but she is so unemotional during the film. How were you able to do that?

I know what you mean. There is this certain restraint to her. But for me, when you’re inside of it as an actor, it all feels very loud. The emotions of things are surging within you. I think the interesting thing about Rhoda was that I didn’t want her to be wallowing in melancholy or self pity. I think that is a really isolating emotion – when somebody pities or feels sorry for him or herself. I wanted to find a way to make her seem active in her grief while she tried to figure out a way to handle it and reconstruct a life that had meaning. I was always trying to find ways to keep that strength and this almost warrior-like energy rather than crushing under the weight of what has happened to her.

Did she evolve during filming? I’m wondering, was Rhoda the same person halfway through filming that you envisioned on paper during pre-production?

Hmm, that’s interesting. I think that’s one of the cool things when Mike and I work together. He comes at things from a directing and writing perspective and I come at things from an acting perspective. We end up doing a lot of that work in the writing. I think we had a pretty solid sense of who Rhoda was. If anything, the only real surprise in what was found later was that there’s not much of a status quo before this accident happens. It almost begins the film. You don’t get to know much about what Rhoda was like prior to that. I think what we found out while making the film was a lot of who her former self was. It comes out as she and John begin to open up to one another. You start to see glimpses of what Rhoda was like before the accident or what she might have been like if the accident didn’t happen. That was something that was interesting to discover in the making of it.

Since you knew the type of person Rhoda was when you wrote her, I’m assuming you also knew who John was when you wrote his character. I bring this up because it’s been reported that when William Mapother was cast as John he came in with a few concerns with his character and wanted to work on the script some more. As a co-writer, how open were you to revisiting some of your work?

I think Mike and I are really open as writers. You want to get to the best version of the story. While things had been heavily weeded out in their relationship, it was still an intricate and epic sci-fi idea with this smaller drama at its center. That was all very delicately woven from the beginning. But then there are things we found in rehearsals with William that were very true. We found things in the spontaneity of putting a scene on its legs. When you’re in the presence of it, everyone just agrees. (Laughs) When you find something honest during rehearsals, you just want that to be part of the story. Everybody has the same agenda, which is to tell the best story. Mike and I don’t bring too much ego to the table.

William is such a great actor. I loved him in “In the Bedroom.”

Oh, Mike and I really loved his work in that film, too. We were so excited when he read the script for “Another Earth” and really responded to it. We thought he was perfect for this story. The moment he said yes was the moment it became a film. We were so excited to begin the story with him.

What type of relationship did you hope to build between Rhoda and John throughout the film?

We always knew we wanted to tell a story about these two outsiders who have a very dark secret between them. As a result, this relationship always has this thriller undercurrent. You don’t know exactly what will happen if this secret is exposed. As a result, their relationship is really by fits and starts. They have these moments of connection and intimacy because of this similar experience in the wake of this accident. Then there are moments where they are setting one another off in weird ways because they don’t fully understand there’s a lie at the center. It’s a real relationship that is sort of coming together then coming apart then coming together then coming apart right until the very end. I really do think they return one another to a state of living in some way.

As a person, do you feel empathy for Rhoda? She’s lost part of her life for this one terrible mistake. Or do you feel she needed to be held accountable?

I totally feel empathy for her. I think when you take on a role you never judge that person. You accept everything. You have to come at her from an empathetic place. It’s a terrible thing that happens at the beginning of this story, but I think there is also a real bravery in how she tries to confront things afterwards. You try to never condemn or praise your characters. You just have to live in them. That’s what I was trying to do.

What would you ask Brit Marling if you got the chance to meet her?

It depends. Is she a real duplicate or has she lived a different life?

Ah, good question. Um, for argument’s sake lets say she’s a perfect mirror image of you.

Interesting. Hmm, I would ask her, “Tell me your darkest secret.”

So many times indie films like this, unfortunately, go unnoticed. A film will be critically acclaimed, but few people will see it. What do you think has to happen for indie films like “Another Earth” or your last film “The Sound of My Voice” to get out into the mainstream?

I think it was a really exciting time at Sundance this year because so many micro-budget films had such great ideas and strong stories behind them and were made by such creative and inventive filmmakers. A lot these films were bought and are going to come to theaters, so I think that’s really exciting. I think if people respond to them, it’s important to champion them. That’s how more stories like this will be created and enter the marketplace. It’s always important for stories like this to enter the world because they’re usually outsider ideas that get to enter the mainstream.

Spoiler question
What is your take on the metaphorical significance of the final scene in “Another Earth?” Would you like to keep that open ended for audiences? Personally, I feel like when Rhoda sees herself it symbolizes how she can now move on with her life because she sees herself as a different person and didn’t actually have to leave earth to discover that. But that’s just my interpretation.

You see, that is so beautiful. I love that interpretation. I love what you just said. It’s one of the more beautiful interpretations I’ve heard. That’s why we never talk about our own interpretations because then it silences everyone else. I love what you just said. It’s so deeply felt and true. I’m going to tell Mike about what you just said. By leaving it open, we have the deep, profound pleasure of someone like you telling me how you saw it. It’s so much more beautiful than anything I could have said.