Before Blade Runner, a hesitant Premier Contact with SF

The film after the shock Sicario and before leaving or double Blade Runner 2049. Not exactly the most comfortable position in the world for Denis Villeneuve. To see on France 2 at 9:05 pm Sunday, September 22nd.

Since Robert Wise’s (1951) The Day of the Earth , we know that it can be as entertaining to talk to the aliens as to hit them. But the list of filmmakers who have made the move encourages humility. Wise, Spielberg ( Encounters of the third type ), Cameron ( Abyss ), Zemeckis ( Contact ) and, hum, a certain Stanley Kubrick ( 2001 ), rubbed it. The films in question were not too bad. First contact is part of this overwhelming lineage. Alien vessels in the shape of gigantic eggs appear on the surface of the Earth. The heroine is an engineer responsible for translating the language of ETs to evaluate their friendly or bellicose intentions (and thus decide whether to offer them cookies or to send them nuclear missiles). She drags a heavy personal drama, the kind that makes sleeping bad at night, in her huge house of woman alone with a view of nowhere. The film tells the story of an interstellar contact and also the story of her life ( Story of Your Life , title of the original news): her past and future, which remains to be written. Here is the beautiful fictional SF. With movie potential? This is a real question.

At the end of the tunnel

No action, too many static scenes (meetings to decipher ET drawings), too many “difficult” concepts (what is language, how to contact the unknown?), The news was exciting but objectively not spectacular. And then Denis Villeneuve arrived . The 49-year-old Quebecker is today one of the most sought-after filmmakers on the market. Before he was chosen to lead the Blade Runner sequel (scheduled for next year), Incendies , Prisoners and Sicariohave established it as a triple A technician, able to give depth and dimension to everything he films, thanks to an amazing sense of duration and a certain “gravity” of the atmosphere. Each of his last four films (the three above plus Enemy ) works in the same enigmatic mode, the keys of the plot gradually revealing itself to the characters and spectators, confronted together with an ambiguous situation and the moral problematic that goes with it. In this sense, the Amy Adams of Premier Contact is the direct continuation of Sicario’s Emily Blunt : a heroine who gropes in the dark (the tunnel motif) and gradually approaches a truth that exceeds her .

Bad contact

This is probably the rub. The “reminiscences” that haunt Amy Adams and turn her mission into an intimate quest are the subject of a sleek, post-Chris Nolan sleight of hand, but devoid of the rigor (prologue, dishonest) and devoid of everything fear of heights. Moreover, the formal mastery of Villeneuve is not enough to maintain the interest of repetitive didactic scenes, where Colonel Forest Whitaker plays his sad smiley mouth to (signify) the weight – heaviness – of the challenge to the humanity and the proposed dissertation topic. Will humans know how to communicate with each other, to better communicate with the cosmos? Fortunately, the super linguist will succeed in decoding the calligraphy of the aliens! We’re kidding, of course, but there’s a bit of that: First Contactis certainly the continuation of a subtle author’s work on the narrative, the identification of the viewer and its gradual acclimatization to the darkness of a plot made of complex signs to decode. But it marks only the first hesitant steps of Villeneuve in SF territory, his “first contact” with a dangerous genre, which is saying that it will be expected in late 2017.

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