RELEASED: 10th November 2016
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
CAST: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma and Mark O’Brien
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $203.3m
AWARDS: 1 Academy Award (Best Sound Editing) and 1 BAFTA (Best Sound)
In the decade of the 2010’s, Denis Villeneuve has had a hell of a run. Starting the decade with Incendies and ending it with Blade Runner 2049, it could be argued that Denis is one of the best filmmakers out there. While I absolutely loved his continuation of the Blade Runner mythology in 2049, for me Arrival is and will be his masterpiece. The film focuses on Louise Banks, a linguist and language professor who was recruited by the U.S Army to check out the extraterrestrial spacecraft that silently hovers above the ground in Montana. With eleven other spacecrafts scattered across the Earth, affected nations have sent in the military and scientific experts to study them. Partnered with physicist Ian Donnelly, Louise and Ian are tasked with making contact with the extraterrestrials, research and understand their complex language before mankind heads towards war against the visitors. The film looks at the importance of language and communication, how easily a particular word could be misinterpreted and how sometimes we can withhold information that may provide the final piece of a larger puzzle. While most classic sci-fi films rely on the brawn of humanity in tackling extraterrestrials, here we have a thinker, trying to study and comprehend the language from another planet that nobody else has ever tired before whilst also trying to be the voice of reason amongst a room of individuals who are nervously by the silent nature of the alien vessels arrival and fearing the expected threat that they’re not accustomed to on this scale. We see through the opening scene of Louise suffering a painful tragedy that is stirred when she communicates with the aliens. It’s her belief in herself and trying to get all intel groups across the world to communicate with one another that makes her a character to root for and follow her on this journey through her eyes and Amy Adams gives an absolutely fantastic performance a the character, carrying the film on her shoulders as she brings a sense of wonder and vulnerability to the role and the fact she never got an Academy Award nomination that year for this is criminal (overdramatic slightly, but point stands). Amy Adams is surrounded by a wonderful ensemble, including solid performances from Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg. From the opening frame the end credits, Denis Villeneuve does a wonderful job with directing this sci-fi drama, particularly in how he takes his time to build up certain sequences, such as the initial buildup to the the helicopter arriving at the Montana landing sight, where the audience gets to see the scale of the alien vessel, with the fog/mist in the area surrounding it, to the scene in which Louise and Ian get to see the actual aliens for the first time within the ship. The cinematography by Bradford Young is also terrifically done here and his work captures the intense tone that Villeneuve gone for here of humans not only trying to comprehend that they are infact not alone in the universe, but also the panic that sets in. The film also has great production design from Patrice Vermette, as well as some wonderful Set Decoration by Marie-Soleil Dénommé, Paul Hotte and André Valade. Adapting Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’, this is still Eric Heisserer’s best screenplay to date and as for the score here by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson is beautifully haunting. While the final act goes to a place that some viewers may not by, I was fully invested in the journey and absolutely loved the film.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Colonel Weber escorts Louise Banks and Ian Donnelly via helicopter to the Montana landing site and it’s the buildup of that moment we see the scale of the alien vessel, with the score provided by Jóhann Jóhannsson, is what makes the scene so effective and my personal favourite scene in the film.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Despite knowing the journey… and where it leads… I embrace it… and I welcome every moment of it.” – Louise Banks
DID YOU KNOW: Director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer created a fully functioning, visual, alien language. Heisserer, Villeneuve and their teams managed to create a “logogram bible,” which included over a hundred different completely operative logo-grams, seventy-one of which are actually featured in the movie.