Denis Villeneuve’s latest is an artier — certainly moodier and less entertaining, thanks to Amy Adams’s deeply inward protagonist and a blue-gray palette designed to contrast the barren present with the fruitful past — version of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. That is, it’s an alien-landing movie in which the alien landing is revealed to be not the point, but rather, the thing that helps to reveal the point. There, the revelation was that faith is possible because things really do happen for a reason. Here...well, there’s no sense in spoiling things, but there’s a reason why Adams’s opening voiceover states that she’s not sure she believes in beginnings and endings. It might have helped if the story had spent more time considering the ostensible issue: how to communicate with aliens who write with (admittedly captivating) coffee-cup stains? (Did nobody think to draw a pictograph? How do both sides make the leap from concrete to abstract? Etc.) Also maybe the actual issue. Because...everyone dies eventually? And spouses shouldn’t keep life-or-death secrets from each other? (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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