By Megan Bianco

A common theme featured in movies this month is apparently the concept of time and how to use it to your advantage. It can be a gift, a weapon or even transportation. Last week in Dr. Strange, the hero used time against fighting the bad guys, and this week in Arrival, time appears as a way for the lead to discover her destiny. It’s interesting that in the month of Thanksgiving, with feel-good, family movies, this year we get some clever, unique blockbusters.

Language professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is emotionally bored with her career and doesn’t have a social life when a group of alien spaceships park on several different spots on Earth. The next day, the government recruits Banks to figure out how to translate the aliens’ language and writing before a possible attack. Her assigned partner is scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). Throughout the film, we also see flashbacks of a daughter Louise once had.

Michael Stuhlbarg and Forest Whitaker co-star as Louise’s and Ian’s superiors. Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve of Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015), and his usual dark tone is used appropriately here, though it’s not as violent and gruesome as his films have been in the past. Instead we have an introspective drama disguised as a sci-fi movie. More for the fan of Close Encounters (1977) than Star Wars. The nonlinear structure works naturally, and Adams and Renner have just the right amount of subtlety without appearing stiff. For a high-budget, indie flick at heart, Arrival is worth a watch.

(L-R) Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly and Amy Adams as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures
(L-R) Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly and Amy Adams as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

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