In a maze of confusion and poor acting, the film "Another Planet" weaves its way through a story line that could have been outstanding, but fails to deliver.
Take for example, Cassandra, the main character. In her resolve to defend her Africaness she seems confrontational and contrite. It's hard to like her because she is so close-minded.
Cassandra feels, like many teenagers, that she is being held captive at home. Living in a poor area of Toronto, her bible thumping mother and hoodlum brother only facilitate her eagerness to find her Utopia elsewhere.
With no money for food, Cassandra's mother plays the lotto religiously, selecting her numbers by opening the bible to different verses. Hum, no food in the house. Well at least the family can eat the losing lotto tickets they've amassed. That is unless religion and gambling can produce a jackpot.
While strolling home after a rare trip to the grocery store, Cassandra finds a piece of paper that changes her life. It is a pamphlet for a youth exchange program between Quebec and West Africa. She joins the program and embarks on a trip to French speaking Quebec. Here she meets her host family, the LeBlanc's, and the African exchange student.
Immediately Cassandra is put off by her surroundings and makes very little effort to blend into the culture, and thinking that her African exchange partner would be her savior, Cassandra is disappointed when he does not respect her as an equal.
Cassandra's arrival in the house marks a change for everyone. Like watching an episode of MTV's the Real World, it is interesting to see how these people interact. The father is a chauvinist pig who must learn to appreciate others after Cassandra spearheads a workers revolt. The mother, Silvia, longs for a change, but doesn't have the backbone to implement it.
"My mother always told me," Silvia says. "When you have a husband who is a chauvinist, you better be a feminist. And when you're finished doing that you better cook, wash the dishes and do all the housework. My mother was right."
And their son, Jean, is a goofy kid who wants to be called by the English translation of Johnny.
The movie is littered with symbolism and foreshadowing. Like the Moko Jumbi, a ghost-like figure that people fear, akin to the Grim Reaper, that gives Cassandra nightmares.
The film has many strong messages but they arrive late in the film, almost too late to be fully appreciated. For example, "Are you the tiger's spots or the tiger's roar?" the exchange student asks Cassandra. He explains: "A tiger is not a tiger without it's spots, but his cry could be that of a lions. It's exactly like Negritude and Tigritude. Negritude says that we should be proud of our color, of being black. Tigritude says that to be proud of one's color is not enough. We have to be proud of being human."
"Another Plant." written, produced and directed by Christene Browne has moments of intrigue that pique the imagination, but they're few and far between.