CONTACT: Movie Review

Contact is the 1997 film directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on the novel of the same name by reputed American astronomer Carl Sagan. This science fiction drama, often cited as one of the most realistic alien invasion films ever, is an adaptation from writer James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, and helmed by one of the most acclaimed American filmmakers of all time, and certainly his time. It’s clear that Contact is a film with its hold firmly grounded in the science and philosophy surrounding the search for intelligent life in a planet beyond our own – in its chilling opening sequence, the film provides a reminder of how truly fragile and unimportant we truly are. Ultimately, the execution for the film is a bit scattershot, and it’s the ideas simmering in the script that largely outweigh the actual craft of the writing and direction. Contact is sometimes surprisingly simplistic in its depiction of what would be humankind’s greatest discoveries, but other times the film beautifully encapsulates the profound ideas, experiences, and questions that such a discovery would present. All in all, Contact is sometimes a mixed bag, but the ideas and questions it poses are unsettling, poetic, and thought-provoking in a way that few like-minded film can boast to consider.

Jodie Foster in Contact.

Jodie Foster is fantastic in Contact as Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a brilliant scientist who has long been passionate about exploration, communication, and science at large. Foster’s character goes through a mind-melting journey throughout the duration of the film and her performance is almost consistently up to the mark, despite the challenging script. An ensemble cast including a solid Matthew McConaughey and Tom Skerritt round out the film, but it’s clearly Foster who is centerstage, especially in some of the fascinating and emotional final sequences of the film.

Jodie Foster in Contact.

Based on the fictional novel of one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, Contact is an unsurprisingly thought-provoking and deeply ponderous film about the implications of contacting intelligent life outside our own. The film adaptation, therefore, succeeds in its ability to depict the scientific minutiae and challenging questions that would arise out of a discovery so important. In particular, the film’s commentary around philosophy, religion, and morality are some of its most fascinating – it’s impossible not to consider the weighty questions the film poses around these subjects once the credits have rolled, especially those related to those surrounding Occam’s Razor. Narratively, the film struggles more to find its footing – Zemeckis’ adaptation feels rushed, overwrought, and even overly simplistic at times, despite the fact that the broader themes of the film still resonate. All in all, while Contact may not find the best footings with its narrative and screenplay, the themes of this movie are informative, insightful, inspiring, existential, and truly important.

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