Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist and university professor trying to teach a class when news breaks that a ufo has touched down in Montana, causing no little amount of panic among her students, her mother and humanity in general. She seems unphased though and images hint at a tragedy that may be taking up more space in her thoughts.
Despite her preoccupation though she’s contracted by the military to help communicate with the aliens thanks to her translation skills. Joined by theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) she must learn their language in order to find out why they’re here. Timing is everything though as eleven other ships have landed all over the world with eleven other governments trying to do the same thing Banks is.
The aliens are well-conceived in that they are so ‘other’ from what we are. Their appearance, their speech, their language and the way they perceive the world are entirely differently. They aren’t a facsimile of humans in any way.
As well, beautiful cinematography is paired with an evocative soundtrack but those aren’t the reasons you’ll want to rewatch this. There’s a twist at the end that will make you think and without giving anything away the circular theme found throughout was appreciated as was the communication versus action aspect of the story.
The pace does slow down in the middle considerably which accompanied by long shots and a lack of physical action made the film drag. Also, Renner’s character felt wasted. It would have made more sense for his character to be a fellow linguist than a theoretical physicist as his skills aren’t utilized to the same level as Banks’. Seeing them collaborate over language would have made their bond more believable as the chemistry between the two was lacking.
If you’re interested in a sci-fi story that will cause discussion after the film, try this one on for size.