is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer , based on the 1998 short story " Story of Your Life " by Ted Chiang . It stars Amy Adams , Jeremy Renner , Forest Whitaker , Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma .
on September 1, 2016, and was released in the United States and Canada on November 11, 2016, in IMAX by Paramount Pictures . The film has grossed $162 million worldwide and was praised for its storyline, atmosphere and Adams's performance. The film was chosen by American Film Institute and National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2016and has been nominated for numerous awards, including Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress for Adams and Best Original Score .
In a flashback scene, linguist Louise Banks is caring for her daughter, who dies during adolescence from cancer . In the present, while Louise is lecturing at a university, twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the planet. U.S. Army Colonel Weber asks her to join a team, with physicist Ian Donnelly, to decipher their language and find out why they have come to Earth. The team is brought to a U.S. military camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft, and makes contact with two seven-limbed aliens on board. They call the extraterrestrials "heptapods", and Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello . Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, and begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary . As she becomes more proficient, she starts to see and dream vivid images of herself with her daughter.
When Louise is able to ask what the aliens want, they answer: "offer weapon". A similar translation "use weapon" is received by one of the other sites. Fear of a potential threat from the aliens leads other nations to close down communications on the project, and some prepare their military for attack. However, Louise thinks that the symbol interpreted as "weapon" might have an alternative translation, such as "tool" or "technology".
Rogue soldiers plant explosives in the spacecraft. Unaware, Louise and Ian re-enter to communicate with Abbott and Costello again. The aliens give them a much larger and more complex message. Abbott ejects Ian and Louise from the craft as the explosion occurs, which leaves them unconscious. Louise and Ian come round in the camp as the military prepares to evacuate, and the spacecraft moves higher above the ground.
Ian works out that the symbols relate to the concept of time , and that it is one-twelfth of the whole "gift"; they conclude that the aliens must want nations to cooperate.
Meanwhile, China notifies the world that its military is planning to attack the spacecraft off its coast. Louise rushes back to the spacecraft, which sends down a shuttle to take her inside. She meets Costello, who communicates that Abbott is dying. Louise asks about her visions of a daughter, and Costello explains that she is seeing the future, revealing to her that her "visions" were not flashbacks but flashforwards . Costello also communicates that they have come to help humanity by sharing their language, which is the "weapon" or "tool" because it changes the mind's perception of time. The aliens know that 3000 years into the future they will need humanity's help in return. They ask her to use her "weapon" - her ability to see into the future.
Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated. She has a new vision of herself at a future United Nations reception, being thanked by General Shang for convincing him to suspend the Chinese attack. He explains that she had called his private mobile telephone. He shows her his number, which he says he knows he must do without understanding why. In the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls Shang, but realizes she does not know what to say. Her vision continues with Shang explaining that she had convinced him by repeating his wife's last words in Mandarin , which he tells Louise. The planned Chinese attack is called off and the other nations resume contact with each other, as the spacecraft disappear from Earth.
When packing to leave the camp, Ian admits his love for Louise. They discuss life choices, and whether they would change them if they knew the future. Louise foresees that Ian will father her daughter Hannah, whose name is an intentional palindrome , and leave her after discovering that she knew their daughter would die before adulthood. Despite also seeing that Ian will leave her when she eventually reveals their daughter's future, when Ian asks her if she wants to have a baby, Louise agrees.