Arrival is an ominous, thrumming, beautiful thing that starts out being about aliens who need a decoder ring. It ends up being about something quite different. Based on Ted Chiang’s 1998 short story “Story of Your Life,” with a screenplay adapted by Eric Heisserer, Arrival is about Big Things—and the manner in which Villeneuve gets to them, as his camera slowly traces structures and landscapes both familiar and strange, can’t help but surprise and impress. Arrival finds nuance and surprise in a way that not only echoes the nuance and surprise of language, but in a way that echoes other forms of communication, too—forms of communication that, like language, have the power to change how we feel and how we think. Visually and aurally remarkable, Arrival sometimes unfolds like a clever puzzle and other times like a raw-nerve thriller; throughout, with heart and wit, Heisserer and Villeneuve never lose sight of the film’s characters—creatures in a situation that’s weird and mournful, exciting and threatening.

Read the full review by Erik Henriksen
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Denis Villeneuve
Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker