dir. Dennis Villeneuve
[why, yes, I still do film reviews — real life gets in the way of running a blog though so apologies for that]
One of the best and brightest directors working right now is back with this incredible science fiction film that is, for once, pure science fiction, without any faff. Arrival is the story of Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) as she is recruited by the U.S. Military to help translate the language of a mysterious alien species that land on Earth out of nowhere and make no obvious contact. We don’t know their motivations and we only meet them through their interactions with Banks and the military. The film also follows her own personal story, which is as intriguing as it is fascinating, especially towards the end, and I of course will not spoil you because this is the first time in a while that a twist has come out of nowhere for me.
It’s a beautiful film, masterfully shot. A very pale colour palette that gave the film a calm, serene atmosphere, and the sets, especially inside the alien ship, are really great. There isn’t much diversity in the locations, but it never feels boring. The world is very much grounded in its own reality, and I found the lack of pointless exposition refreshing.
The stand-out in the film though is Amy Adams. Here more than anything, she has cemented herself as probably the best actor working at the moment. Her range is incredible, and she conveys a realism that is believable without feeling forced. If she doesn’t win all the awards for this, the film industry will have failed her. (Never mind that her performance in Nocturnal Animals was also absolutely stunning.)
There’s something really beautiful about the purity of science unencumbered by pointless violence that I really enjoyed in this film as well. It is ultimately a story of unity rather than difference, and it could not have arrived at a better time.
I can go on and on about all the things I love in this film, but you’re better off going to watch it. At 116 minutes long, it goes by super fast and it leaves you with important questions to think about.