The Chicago International Film Festival concludes tonight at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois.
An outstanding sci-fi film with an intergalactic language lesson is an inspired choice for closing an international fest full of subtitles. Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario,” “Prisoners,” “Enemy,” “Incendies”) directs Eric Heisserer’s adaptation of Ted Chiang’s 1998 novella “Story of Your Life.”
That life is Hannah’s. Her linguist mother Louise (Amy Adams) is recruited by U.S. military intelligence after 12 alien vehicles arrive around the world. Louise enters the one hovering above a Montana prairie. She translates the intent of seven-limbed beings dubbed heptapods that communicate via intricately detailed smoke rings.
Louise tells theoretical physicist Ian (Jeremy Renner) about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis — how our language structures our mind. Learning heptapod reprograms Louise. We share her visions of Hannah’s life. Their timeline is ambiguous: flashbacks or flashforwards?
Doomsday hinges on interpreting the heptapod expression: “Offer weapon.” Louise ultimately writes the book on their nonlinear language. Not to worry, hers is unlike the one titled “To Serve Man” in that 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode about a cryptographer translating an alien tome. 7 p.m. Oct. 27