“Arrival” is science fiction that twists narrative expectations in profound ways.
The best science fiction always comments on society and indeed, “Arrival” from director Denis Villeneuve has a lot to say about how we communicate and interact with those alien to us. (It couldn’t be more prescient in the aftermath of an election where so many factions felt well, alienated.) Here, Amy Adams stars as a linguist professor helping translate the communications coming from an alien life form whose space ships are hovering over our air space. It’s a story both pragmatic and thrilling as she works to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And the movie’s mind-blowing surprises happen off-screen as well, with screenwriter Eric Heisserer’s adaptation of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” twisting traditional cinematic storytelling tropes in profound ways.