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First, this is a TERRIFIC film. Amy Adams plays a linguist who has been called to government service. At the beginning of the film, we see scenes of her with her daughter. She arrives at class one day to find hardly any students; the news shows that a dozen UFO’s have parked themselves at various places around the globe. Once she arrives in Montana, the scene of one of these objects, she and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, lead a team whose goal is to figure out how to communicate with the inhabitants. I won’t say much about the story, as there are a lot of things that happen that bring a sense of wonder to the film. But the film is excellent. Amy Adams has, I think, her best career performance (Oscar worthy definitely) as a scientist who treads carefully and nervously and blends her love of language with her fascination of understanding why the inhabitants are here; Jeremy Renner is also superb as her partner. The score is eerie, haunting, and beautiful, and the cinematography is gorgeous. I was reminded a bit of District 9 in terms of how the story plays with what we stereotypically identify as aliens. The film is also an allegorical reference to the fracturing of our global societies and the challenges of working together. Above all, this is a story that is both “heady” as well as emotional; it reminded me fondly of the early science fiction stories I read as a teenager that I loved because they spoke directly to my interest in science but also to who I saw myself as a person. Huge thumbs up for a fascinating, unexpected, suspenseful film that appeals to both the head and the heart. I think this movie would be enjoyed by hard-core science fiction fans as well as those who are not; the story definitely transcends the genre.

About Gary Burkholder

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