ET pho­nemes

SFX - - Reviews -

Amy Adams strives to com­mu­ni­cate with aliens in this thought­ful and grown-up first con­tact film.

re­leased 10 Novem­ber 12a | 116 min­utes Di­rec­tor de­nis vil­leneuve Cast amy adams, Jeremy ren­ner, For­est Whi­taker, michael stuhlbarg

“Not ev­ery­one is able to process ex­pe­ri­ences like this,” Amy Adams’s char­ac­ter is warned early on in Ar­rival’s se­cond act. It’s a sen­ti­ment that ap­plies to her jour­ney, to some au­di­ences (we heard con­fused voices as we left our screen­ing) and to the act of adap­ta­tion it­self.

The first sci-fi movie for di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve, it’s based on Ted Chi­ang’s Ne­bula Award-win­ning novella Story Of Your Life. It fol­lows Louise Banks, a pro­fes­sor of lin­guis­tics re­cruited by the US mil­i­tary to be part of the world’s first com­mu­ni­ca­tion with an alien species, whose 12 enig­matic ovoid space­craft are hov­er­ing at seem­ingly ran­dom points around the globe.

To out­line more would be a dis­ser­vice to Ar­rival’s care­fully crafted de­liv­ery, but it’s safe to say that the book’s com­plex beauty has been lost in trans­la­tion some­what in the process of cre­at­ing a main­stream sci-fi movie (al­beit one with a greater air of in­tel­li­gence than the usual block­buster fare). That said, it’s still an ex­cel­lent, grown-up film.

It’s an­chored by Adams’s as­ton­ish­ing, Os­car-wor­thy per­for­mance – silently con­vey­ing grief, lone­li­ness, awe and fear, via mi­cro-ex­pres­sions that’ll have you gripped, des­per­ately try­ing to map her emo­tional in­ner world.

Jeremy Ren­ner also im­presses, bring­ing a sub­tle sen­si­tiv­ity to his slightly nerdy sci­en­tist. It’s such a per­fectly pitched sup­port­ing turn that it could al­most go un­no­ticed, but Ren­ner’s do­ing great work, al­low­ing you to con­nect with his char­ac­ter while amp­ing up Adams’s im­pact.

It’s clear Christo­pher Nolan’s work has had an im­pact on Vil­leneuve. Fans of In­cep­tion, In­ter­stel­lar and The Pres­tige will find plenty to en­joy here. We’re not sure Ar­rival has the lay­ered re­watch value of those movies – there’s less go­ing on than it seems, es­pe­cially for any­one who en­joyed the orig­i­nal novella. Some may need a se­cond watch, though, thanks to a cou­ple of mud­dled re­veals. So, not per­fect then. But def­i­nitely worth ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. Sam Ashurst

De­spite the nu­clear war, Count­down con­tin­ued as nor­mal.

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