Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Ted Chiang (based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg
Synopsis: A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.
Denis Villeneuve is one of the best directors right now, and his last three movies Enemy (2014), Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2014) were all highly acclaimed film. Villeneuve’s directorial style is one that I respect because he always has some unexpected plot twist or presents situations that cause conversation as you leave the theater. Villeneuve’s latest film, Arrival, is another blockbuster that I am certain the average moviegoer will be mixed on. Arrival is not your typical alien-invasion movie; it teaches us lessons that we can apply in our lives. Communication and language are something that every species utilizes and this is the basis for Arrival. If you are uneasy with bad aliens-coming-to-Earth films (looking at you Independence Day: Resurgence), don’t fret; Arrival is the best film of its kind.
Mysterious alien aircraft land in various places around the world and of course they want to know why these creatures are here? Do they intend to harm the residents on earth? The army enlists linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner) to answer those very questions. While the rest of the world is on a first-strike option, Louise and Ian are making strides but as pressure mounts will it be too late?
Interestingly the script by Eric Heisserer is very sparse in its dialogue. The film chooses to tell it’s story through visually and through sound primarily. Most of the films best scenes involve Louise standing outside a glass window, conversing with the aliens through cryptic imaging. At first, the images seem like nothing, but as the movie progresses, we learn about their language and how quickly they can convey complex messages. I mention all this because in these films, the language barrier never really gets challenged as it does here. What is your purpose here? Is a simple question to us because we understand the language. Louise explains why she can’t simply ask the aliens that question. Small details like this make the movie for me.
Amy Adams put herself in contention for Best Actress this awards season for her performance in this film. She isn’t afraid when the aliens show up, and despite what everyone around here believes, she believes in language and doesn’t deviate from that. Adams balance all those emotions with ease. Renner also proves he is more than just an Avenger.
Arrival is a must-see movie and is another brilliantly directed film by Villeneuve.
Overall Grade: A
Hear our podcast review on Episode 195, coming soon.