While I didn’t have many opportunities to see the gems of 2016 I had the privilege to see Arrival which is directed by one of my favorite directors, Denis Villeneuve. Villeneuve has a brilliant way of telling stories and has directed some of my favorite movies all time: Prisoners, Incendies, Sicario. He is a conductor of the viewer’s emotions, and crafts his stories with an amazing flow.
In Arrival we this his orchestration at work with a slower then normal film for Villeneuve. Normally there is a tension to be seen in his movies that’s front and center in his story and characters. Arrival is different, it’s tension slowly builds through the mysterious nature of the story and can be felt as the plot simmers to an mentally explosive ending that had me thinking about the film for hours after.
The premise seems rather generic, aliens have come to earth and the world is wondering what they want. The military hires a linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and a scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to find a way to communicate with this new species. The way the movie addresses this process is very interesting; rarely does it cross the mind how we would ever be able to communicate with another life form when they are at our door step.
This movie takes themes from Interstellar in relation to how we understand time and explores this through the role of language. The most simple truths presented at the beginning of the film end up creating the most spectacular and perplexing ending that was only accomplished through some amazing writing by Eric Heisserer and Ted Chiang. The ability to feel like the character and yourself are one, developing and learning the nature of what is being revealed throughout the movie is really captivating and engaging.
The acting, writing, directing, and score were all very impressive in this film and was easily the best time I had at the movie theatre this year. To be able to use the music and the smallest pieces of writing and story to accumulate to a realization that what you were seeing was not what you were seeing at all was pure brilliance. See this movie.