Learning the transcendental language of a higher intelligence is an exceptional premise and this film carries it well.
Arrival (2016) is one of the rare “alien" movies that have an intelligent and optimistic spin over the mainstream tendency towards aliens with slime and teeth and a motive to destroy humanity and Earth. (Prometheus had promise, for example, with a potentially mythic intelligent premise, until it turned rapidly south like so many story lines feeding on fear and stupidity, but I digress...)
Arrival does maintain its quotient of basic Hollywood formula, and a predictable failure of imagination regarding military inclinations and public hysteria. (Like the coming of any benevolent, messiah-type enlightened consciousness, humanity seems intent on destroying the munificent messenger.)
Yet in this imagining, in spite of our selves, a different outcome is possible. In this "first contact" scenario, the more likely outcome is that the visiting beings are unifying, cooperative, tolerant, non aggressive, yet powerful beyond our understanding - even though they look like squid, but whatever.
Arrival is not entirely original, but retains a richness, subtlety and depth of story to entertain a progressive mind: questioning the linearity of time; the division and divisiveness of human power structures; and demonstrating the evolutionary possibility of cooperation - go figure!
It took a second viewing for little old me to get the significance of the alternative timeline - all I need say on that.
The score is haunting and beautiful, the cinematic effect and acting (Amy Adams) are excellent.
It’s an inspiring and beautiful film - check it out if you, like me, missed it until now!