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Logline: After unidentified flying objects land in twelve different sites around the world, a linguist is recruited by the military to help translate alien communications.

If aliens were to land on our planet, how would we communicate with them?  This is the question that drives Denis Villeneuve’s new film Arrival.  Very rarely do science fiction films about extraterrestrial life seek to answer this basic question.  Arrival does so with excellent results.

The less you know about Arrival, the better.  As is often the case, the film’s trailer gives too much away.  I urge you not to watch or ready anything about the film.  As the recent presidential election showed us, we are a divided nation.  This sci-fi parable could not have been released at a more appropriate time as its messages of empathy and unity seem so timely.

Denis Villeneuve is one of the most talented modern filmmakers.  Though I have only seen Arrival and Incendies (2010), I am looking forward to seeing more of his work.  Arrival features excellent performances from its cast, which includes Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.  Amy Adams is simply fantastic in the lead role of Dr. Louise Banks.

Riveting and timely, Arrival is an excellent film with some great ideas.  The film has an impressive visual design as it challenges our conception of communication and time.  Arrival is one of the best films of 2016.

Rating (out of ****): ****