Regarded as one of the best science-fiction films of the year, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, ARRIVAL, is a uniquely enterprising look at what that first contact experience could ultimately look like.
This year’s selection of films that ran the circuit of the awards season were all similarly themed and executed, especially in their narrative that explored the human condition; you could even say that about the much lauded musical La La Land and this is even more so about the Oscar Winning Moonlight a love story as explored through the perspective of two gay men. The theme of the human condition is given a slightly more universal angle in Arrival the only sci-fi film in the lot nominate for Best Film.
Along the same lines as Contact or 2001: A Space Odyssey, this feature is modeled more from the fact-based science of what an alien first contact scenario would perhaps occur in reality, Arrival is seen through the lens of actress Amy Adams character Louis Banks, a linguist, who is given the opportunity of a lifetime when a series of extraterrestrial vessels arrive on Earth and situate themselves in twelve strategically significant locations. Banks is the not the first expert to meet the new visitors, but is the first xenolinguistic to crack the code in communicating with the aliens.
What happens next is an unimaginable journey as Banks begins to understand the aliens’ intention and interprets the magnitude of the “gift” that they have brought with them. Is there intention to help mankind, or finally undo centuries of mankind’s own strife and deliver a weapon that might lead to the end of days? Arrival superbly maintains the drama and without any particularly huge explosions well extrapolates its narrative which becomes more and more intricate as the alien language is deciphered by the earthbound experts.
Amy Adams own ability to approach her roles from an exquisite purity opens that world of aliens while grounding the fanciful in a very tangible reality. She does this very well in all her roles, but most apparent in her films that are larger than life, as example by her approach to reimagining the DC Comics iconic character of Lois Lane most recently in the blockbuster Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. She delivers Banks similarly authentically. The scientist is extremely relatable and potent — a truly believable and thoughtful heroine.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve the filmmaker is the storyteller behind the recent hit Sicario which is extremely realistic and immersive in its approach. Arrival is very much the same in tone and is rich in its ability to create a very authentic environment. In a season of bombastically explosive alien invasions, without the benefit of full and deep character development Arrival appears to be the film that benefited from all those missing plot lines in those other flicks, and is a thoughtful and very hopeful experience.
I personally did not know what to expect, but once the film began it was impossible to relent to its leading players, and especially imagine the world of Louise Banks and how it had just opened up beyond all comprehension or expectation.
Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner is available now for digital download on iTunes.