Denis Villeneuves thrilling sci-fi epic, in which a linguistics expert is called on to speak for the human race, is daring, clever and touched with skin-crawling strangeness
Arthur C Clarke famously said there are just two possibilities: that we are alone in the universe, or we arent, and both are equally terrifying. The first terror is harder to put on film, but director Denis Villeneuve brings the second to life with this freaky and audacious contact sci-fi and makes it something other than terror. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer has adapted the novella Story of Your Life by the SF author Ted Chiang; he brings to it a Shyamalanesque lilt, and cleverly finesses the inevitable problem of how to end this kind of story: whether there is going to be any kind of departure. The movie skirts the edge of absurdity as anything like this must, but a forthright star performance from Amy Adams convinces you that something that could be silly is actually fascinating and deeply scary. This is a close encounter of the engrossing kind: smarter and more dreamily exalting than recent, disappointing movies such as Jeff Nicholss Midnight Special and Christopher Nolans Interstellar.