Another Earth (2011) -vs- Sliding Doors (1998)

July 23, 2011 Eric Volkman

You’re not actually reading this. In fact, you’re living in an alternate world, where all your dreams have come true; you’re together with the love of your life; and you’re incurably rich. No, wait… nirvana is not all it’s cracked up to be. Get back here and finish this Smackdown. We have a winner to determine.

Alternate worlds and parallel lives are the themes here, with moody, sci-fi indie Another Earth is pitted against the 1998 “what if” romantic dramedy, Sliding Doors. Both concern heroines who have the chance to experience a better life. In the case of our just-released challenger, troubled protagonist Rhoda (Brit Marling, who also co-produced and co-wrote the film with writer-director Mike Cahill) gets a one-in-a-million shot at visiting a newly discovered planet. This world looks very Earth-like and seems to be inhabited by people who are… well, doubles of ourselves. As for Sliding Doors, our girl Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow, in an early starring role) is a bright young professional freshly fired from her job. As if that weren’t painful enough, she’s got a shiftless, philandering boyfriend, Gerry (John Lynch) to come home to. If anyone’s in need of a different life on a more accommodating plane of existence, it’s she.

Two Helens, two Rhodas, two Earths, two fates. This is almost turning into a tag-team match. But at the end of the day, it can only be one on one. Alternates, go to your corners; the Smackdown begins! […]