Contact is a 1997 science fiction drama film directed by a great visual storyteller, Robert Zemeckis. It stars Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, William Fichtner, Tom Skerrit, James Woods, John Hurt, David Morse and Jena Malone. An incredible cast. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name. Carl and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film. Jodie Foster plays the lead role of Dr. Ellie Arroway, a SETI scientist who discovers undeniable evidence of extraterrestrial life, and is chosen to make first contact.
NO SPOILERS (don’t watch the trailer!)
I found this movie at a friend’s house and had no idea of its existence until then. Plot looked good, the cast could be good and the director is a legend with films like Forrest Gump, the Back to The Future trilogy, Cast Away, Gothika, etc,. I hadn’t seen the trailer for it nor do I recommend watching it as it gives away many spoilers, so I began watching it with no expectations except for a perhaps entertaining 90s science fiction film. I didn’t expect much of Matthew McConaughey based on the fact that this actor to me was the comedic walk-around-shirtless kind of guy with a noticeable Texan accent (impersonated by so many) and wasn’t impressed by his acting skills until Mud and Dallas Buyers Club came out. But his role as Palmer Joss in Contact was very good. Although he’s been in a few romcoms (romantic comedies) of the chick flick kind, some action roles (I think he takes off his shirt there too), and some filler films, it seems as if that if the role is worthy and he feels like it, he can perform amazingly. Having said that, actress Jodie Foster played beautifully. I must say I’m not so familiar with her range of movies, other than Taxi Driver, The Silence of The Lambs, Maverick and Inside Man. I definitely have to watch more of her. You know what? The whole cast performed wonderfully! Robert Morse: Heartwarming. William Fichtner: Outstanding. Jena Malone as young Ellie: Incredible. Legendary John Hurt: Legend. Tom Skerrit: His usual self; noteworthy. James Woods: James Woods.
The visual effects play a big part in this film. That intro left me with my mouth hanging open. Excellent effects for 1997! I actually thought they used Bill Clinton when I first saw him in a scene. Remember JFK in Forrest Gump? Impressive!
Don Burgess’ cinematography work is incredible. His art always is. You can tell by the many known films he’s worked on. That combined with Alan Silvestri’s emotional score created what I believe to be a science fiction gem with its excellent buildups and moments of realizations.
Religion vs science plays the major theme in this film. Back and forth between what’s fact and faith, the variety of people living on this planet and how their beliefs separate them from each other, and our purpose and sense of meaning as humans in this vast amount of space. But if you allow it, you can walk away from this film with a great sense of unity. Some loved it and others hated it and that’s okay. For me, it added more to who I am and came at a right time in my life. Truly a touching journey into faith and the unknown.
Watch the film, be surprised, be touched and don’t search for the trailer on YouTube! 😉
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen