The protagonists of "Another Earth" mope about as if expiring of epic woe, and not without reason. He (William Mapother) has lost his pregnant wife and young son to a drunken driver. She (co-writer Brit Marling) was the inebriated teenager who wiped out his family.

After four years in prison she expiates her guilt by posing as a cleaning-service maid, entering the widower's untidy house and putting his life back in order. They enter into a glum, arty affair. He woos her with the plaintive tones of his musical saw. She mops up his grief while concealing her identity. The filmmakers don't seem to recognize this subterfuge as the act of cruel narcissism that it is.

Meanwhile, news reports announce the discovery of an approaching planet, a perfect twin of our own. Cue much moody gazing at this metaphysical metaphor. Might a double of our heroine live up there, one with a clean driving record? Luckily, there's a Richard Branson-like mogul offering a free trip on the first passenger flight to Earth 2 for one lucky applicant.

Director/writer Mike Cahill fails to give the preposterous story even an aura of plausibility, and the unforgivable subplot involving a dotty/enlightened old Indian school custodian is gallingly sentimental. It's hard to fathom how this gimmicky, half-bright allegory took jurors at the Sundance Film Festival by storm. Altitude sickness compounded by snow blindness, perhaps.