This is an epic film, but also a small, intimate film. This is a tense film, but also an emotional, heartstrings film. Quite simply this is a fabulous film.
Amy Adams i'm sorry is the best pound-for-pound actress in the Hollywood ring. In anything Enchanted, The Muppets or the supreme subtlety and focus here.
The twist you can see coming a mile off, but it still lands an emotional thump. I was close to tears.
This film balances the alien sci-fi element with its motifs of unity and balance. The language of the aliens shows the power of balance. We see balance between individuals (e.g.: Ian and Louise), balance between countries, and balance between the sciences (e.g.: numerical methods and linguistics). These balanced converge on the main thesis: a balanced worldview, in which we make decisions seeing the end from the beginning.
This movie involved me on a deep emotional level, and makes me want to be a better person. But on to the technical side. The pacing was excellent-it keeps the viewer involved throughout. The accurate linguistics and scientific analysis delighted me. The governmental decisions were understandable, though often frustrating (this was deliberate-I was grateful for the point they were making). The visual effects were well done and not overbearing. The use of time was clever and enjoyable, reflecting the theme well.
I wholly recommend this film to everyone.