Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is caring for her dying adolescent daughter.While she is lecturing at a university, twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth. U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) asks Louise to join physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to
decipher their language and find out why they have arrived. The team is brought to a military camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft, and makes contact with two seven-limbed aliens on board. They call the extraterrestrials “heptapods”, and Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, and she begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. As she becomes more proficient, she starts to see and dream vivid images of herself with her daughter, and of their relationship with the father. Is she seeing the past? Or maybe the future?
It was one of the best, if not actually the best sci-fi movie with aliens I’ve ever seen. Adapted by by Eric Heisserer from the 1998 novella, “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang it managed to capture the atmosphere of that fantastic and intricate story. Imagine that: hardly any CGI, hardly any violence, two nerds versus two aliens who are seen through a kind of slightly opaque screen and still I was rooted to my sofa almost the whole time. Mind you I’d read that novella first so I roughly knew what was this movie about.
To be honest if I compare to this one all other popular sci-fi movies I’ve watched and liked, like Interstellar, the Star Wars series, Dune or Close Encounters of the Third Kind all of them seem like plastic toys next to an object of art. It is a thinking person sci-fi, introspective, philosophical and existentially inclined. It keeps you entertained too, believe it or not.
Now if I was to recommend it I’d say: watch it by all means but preferably at home. If it is not possible choose at least a small cinema which doesn’t sell coke and popcorn so nobody distracts you. The story is not linear and you’ll have to think a bit while watching this one.
A fantastic movie based on a fantastic novella. I couldn’t believe my own eyes when I read that the screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, had unsuccessfully been pitching his adaptation of Story of Your Life for years, and by the time producers Cohen and Levine approached him about a potential sci-fi project, he had largely given up on the idea.