This has been getting great reviews since it appeared at festivals and we can all use a little bit of intelligent sci-fi anytime. And it is good, and intelligent, and totally engaging and gives one a fair amount to think about, and the plot hinges on using your brain and figuring out what’s happening for a story based around communication and language, instead of blowing something up and having fistfights. And yet, I could have lived without it.
Amy Adams plays a linguist named Louise called upon to help communicate with aliens that have landed in 12 places around the world. We have frequent flashbacks to her life with her daughter, who died when she got to 16 or so. As the film goes on, Louise is increasingly drawn into these flashbacks, and it starts to become apparent that the moments she’s remembering are key to understanding the way the aliens communicate. So, like the director’s previous film Enemy [recommended], it’s a bit of a mind game and requires engagement and thought from you, which is a welcome change.
The film is slow-paced, but went by quickly and I was surprised when it was over. There are no fistfights or battles, which is fine, but it is also subtle to the point of verging on flatness in terms of stakes and escalating action. The crisis that Louise helps avert never seems to be that dire, and the consequences of what might have happened not too much of a big deal. There are some good poignancies that arrive when you piece together what happened, and that’s nice, resulting in a film that’s more intellectual and emotional than pulse-pounding.
Which is all good if you have to see a movie, but remember, you don’t have to see a movie. Being outside in the few hours of sunlight or reading a good book are also worthy pursuits, and might leave one with a sense of having done something valuable with one’s time. This was all good and intelligent and insightful, but the feeling I walked out of the theater with was “I didn’t really need to see that.” Which, just saying, is not the feeling I walked out of Shin Godzilla with. Just saying.