Every Friday, our film critic Grace Kinsey will review a new release at the cinema. This week, she gives her verdict on Arrival.

Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams, is a science-fiction film with a difference, in which a professor of linguistics is called upon by certain authorities to communicate with aliens, who have arrived, in their hovering pods, in Earth's atmosphere.

What makes Arrival unusual is the small scale on which the story takes place. Far from depicting the usual scenes of apocalyptic chaos caused by the alien invasion, the film deals with it from a niche, academic perspective –  from the point of view of a linguistics professor on the one hand, and a professor of physics on the other – and in doing so perfectly marries the themes of language and the passage of time, both of which are central to Arrival's emotional back-story.

Even more interesting is the impression these academics give of being  unfazed – relative to panic-stricken crowds shown to the audience via news footage – by the extraterrestrial beings settling down on their planet. It is as though the film is set in a world where an alien invasion is certainly frightening, but not out of the question. Perhaps this raises a point of contention: is such a world fictional, or is it in fact the one we inhabit?

Although that aspect of Arrival may divide opinion, most viewers would agree that the film is incredibly stylish. The use of black, white and grey is stunning and the orthography of the aliens is a work of art. Add to those things the striking score by Johann Johannes (who also composed the music for The Theory of Everything), and scenes of undeniable beauty and intensity are the result. It is pleasing, then, that the slow-moving camera-work allows the eyes to linger on what is before them.

Many critics have given Arrival five big stars. I will not do the same, because, although I greatly enjoyed watching the film, I forgot it fairly quickly, thanks to its slightly dissatisfying ending. From start to finish, Arrival makes many allusions to a non-linear, circular passage of time. They occur in its shot-sequencing, set-design and storyline. So, come the film's confusing conclusion, as far as time is concerned, it seems to make sense that it does not make sense. I personally was puzzled, but I found myself giving Villeneuve the benefit of the doubt, brushing the ending off as intentionally nonsensical. Maybe that is indeed the point, or maybe I just missed something. Either way, a little more clarity would have been nice.