Arrival

Denis Villeneuve's Arrival is a puzzling alien-contact picture that packs quite a wallop and has a marvelous resonating conclusion. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker as members of a U.S. military operation to establish contact with scoop-shaped craft over Montana, one of 12 alien vessels hovering around the world. Adams plays a university linguist; Renner, a Los Alamos physicist; and Whitaker, the chief army officer directing the operation to crack the alien's beautiful but cryptic language and find out why they're here. Villeneuve, who also directed the wonderful Sicario from last year and 2013's unnerving Prisoners, has given the film a pacing and density that might turn off those looking for more flash and spectacle. I was drawn into the cosmic mystery at the heart of the movie and the enigma of the space visitors and the humans chosen to reach out to them.

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