Getting thoughts and ideas across can happen in various ways and as humans we have a constant urge to communicate. Not only about the present, but also for people in the future. This review is an example of that, because as I’m writing this I know others will read it days, weeks or even months later.
Communication appears to be easy, but it comes as no surprise that misinterpretation can happy quickly depending on the way it is communicated and the state of the person receiving that information. It sometimes might be hard to translate a feeling into words, as much as it is impossible to really describe a scent.In Arrival, de latest movie by one of my favorite directors, Denis Villeneuve, it’s all about communication. How can you get messages across to someone who speaks a completely foreign language to yours, in this case aliens?This review contains spoilers
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a language expert who struggles with the images of her deceased daughter, who lost her battle against cancer. When she gets to her work at the university it turns out to be almost completely empty. She quickly finds out that a couple of mysterious alien ships have suddenly appeared all over the world. Normal life grinds to a halt and in various countries the army heads towards them to protect the earth. Nothing happens though and Louise is visited by a colonel (Forest Whitaker), who plays her a recording and asks her if she wants to come with hem. She hesitantly joins him and meets scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), with who she will have to work. Is she, together with her team, able to find out why these creatures are here?
Like no other Villeneuve is able to build tension and take his time to pull the viewer into a world and make you curious about it. With an opening which is as emotional as those Pixar seems to have patented you immediately care for Dr. Louise Banks and you wonder why the aliens have arrived. Their ships hover just above the ground, feeling threatening, even though their intentions are unknown.
This isn’t a science fiction movie which is about action, as there basically isn’t any. It’s more about building a relationship, learning to understand each other and how that understanding can change your own way of thinking. That change here means that by learning a new language it enables someone to no longer experience time like a linear event. It is a complicated concept which Villeneuve manages to explain clearly, including the challenges it brings. Would you still start a new relationship or have a child when you would know in advance that something will go wrong? Or would you still make that choice and enjoy every moment so much more? Or would you consider your life as something which is set and you can’t influence the outcome of? Arrival is a smart movie which you’ll want to discuss. Amy Adams shows a broad range of complicated emotions in her performance, making you care about this character who struggles with what she’s experiencing.
But not only its story is good, but visually it is beautiful as well. Whether it’s the moment in which gravity changes when they enter the ship, the way the aliens communicate or their design. Villeneuve creates a feeling of wonder and amazement which you’ll constantly experience. Up to now I haven’t seen a bad Villeneuve movie, which makes it one of the most consistent directors of the moment. Arrival is no exception and will surely end up in my top 10 list of the year.