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Elegant and ambitious, this sci-fi mystery is designed to take on life’s biggest questions in the most intimate way. And, while Denis Villeneuve’s aim is lofty, you won’t leave this one flying on air.

Amy Adams once again brings gravity to her central role as a linguist, brought in by the government when aliens land on Earth. We know she is a lonely scholar and admire her road to this auspicious point. One of the most easily enjoyable parts of this movie happens when she and her fellow scientists arrive at the landing site and are prepping for service. Once our Dr. Banks and team establish contact, we’re all in for a kaleidoscopic ride. Time shifts are presented smartly enough for us to pretty much keep our bearings and they are cool, perhaps even tantalizing for those who go for this kind of thing. But know going in, traveling along these time altered paths can take us to places we might not want to be.

Grand themes presented with an uncompromising intelligence already separate this film from its more commercially digestible counterparts. And thank God there is room for work like this in the current market. While I admire much of what arrives with its debut, I also found myself intrigued, but not stirred. Yes, I liked Adams’ Banks and didn’t want to see her suffer, but my empathic moments were easily dismissed as the more cerebral whats-going-on-now stuff happened. And, for what it’s worth, there were several perfectly bright, accomplished viewers shaking their heads at the screening I attended, asking others questions about the collage-like plot line. If you like symmetry, this may not be the movie for you. If you’re willing to go for an eerie, puzzling trip, climb on board.

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