Directed by: Denis Villeneuve – Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma
Amy Adams has certainly been busy, as this is her second release this month, along with Nocturnal Animals. This sci-fi thriller is based on the 1998 short story, Story of Your Life, and from the off, you get the impression that it isn’t your run-of-the-mill alien invasion movie.
We meet linguist, Louise Banks (Adams) as she takes us through her daughter’s life and death in a montage, before she starts telling us about when ‘they’ arrived. As mysterious ‘heptapods’ appear around the world, governments are baffled. Realising they need to understand what they aliens want, US Army Colonel Weber (Whitaker) employs Louise and scientist, Ian Donnelly (Renner) to try and figure out their language.
It turns out to be incredibly complex, and Louise and Ian spend a lot of time with the extra terrestrial visitors. However, when other territories think they have interpreted a hostile message, Louise must try and convince them that they’re wrong, all the while struggling with flashbacks to incidents that she doesn’t actually remember.
Forget the likes of Independence Day. There are no hostile aliens shooting laser weapons here. In fact, the actual creatures are rather underwhelming, and never take centre-stage. Despite the basic premise, this is a human story about life, death, and everything in-between. It is low on action, but high on emotion, and the ending is deeply affecting. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking, with a fantastic performance from Adams. Renner and Whitaker are also great, but very much just catalysts to allow Louise’s story to evolve.
Much of the movie is set in the confines of the army base, or on board the heptapod, which gives it a feeling of claustrophobia, and there is some gorgeous cinematography. The script is wonderful, and manages to avoid blinding the viewer with science, despite the premise.
This is a fantastic movie that surprises at every quarter. The final twist is truly astonishing, and ultimately it is incredibly moving. It raises numerous questions about how we perceive time, and our futures, and will have you questioning everything you know long after it ends.
Not just one for sci-fi fans, anyone who loves a good drama will relish this.
In Cinemas November 10th! See trailer below: