Arrival is labelled intelligent science fiction, but is really more of a thoughtful and thought provoking film that lives under the shadow of 2001: A Space Odyssey; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and Contact. Aliens have arrived on Earth via 12 gigantic hovering contact lenses and we have to figure out whether they are friend or foe. In attempting to communicate with them, the film playfully explores the concepts of both linguistic and cinematic language. Denis Villeneuve’s assured direction and a stylish production design help make the film feels original and visually eye-catching. Amy Adams’ character is relatable and her nuanced central performance anchors the film while Johan Johansson’s soundscape of a score creates an atmospheric space for the film and the audience to feel and resonate with the emotive gravity of the storyline. However, this film is front and foremost an exercise in immaculately executed storytelling. Granted, the first third of the film, at first, feels slow and lumbering but it is to the film’s credit, that once you have experienced it as a whole, that first third’s existence is totally justified and more. Seemingly throwaway scenes and dialogue become more relevant and their significance revealed once the whole picture is presented and it is one doozy of a reveal that is well worth the 2 hours the film takes to get to. Comparison with Contact is inevitable as they both tell a similar story but for me, it is the disappointing Interstellar that comes to mind as Arrival is the film Interstellar wants to be but failed: a film where substance and style come together in an emotional story about Humanity and, with everything going on in our world right now, this film’s arrival is all the more pertinent than ever before.