A visually stunning and thought-provoking atmosphere!
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Based on the award-winning novel ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, Arrival is a well-constructed piece of science fiction that tinkers you to think beyond the normal.
The opening line of the film reads “..I’m not sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life, like the day they arrived.” This sets the stage for what’s to come. As 12 mysterious spacecrafts (dubbed as shells) descend at different locations on Earth, linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are roped in by army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to investigate the UFO’s purpose. Perceived to be a threat against humanity, the team is in a bid against time.
Upfront, Arrival has all makings of your typical sci-fi blockbuster, but the film intelligently redirects the ‘first contact’ premise to a more mature screenplay that takes a reformed look at love, relationships, communication and the human condition itself. And it does so with barely an explosion. Dr. Banks draws diligence from her relationship with her daughter in the team’s interactions with the aliens. The narrative presses forward in time interspersed with flashbacks to the past. And even though the logic behind how the linguistics expert manages to decipher the ‘smoky’ alien language is fuzzy at best, it is the decrypting of the intent and purpose of the extra-terrestrials (called Heptapods) that starts to piece things together. Don’t let the deliberate pace of the film dissuade you, as there is an underlying co-relation to the on goings that keeps unraveling the mystery of what’s to come.
After movies like Sicario and Prisoners, director Denis Villeneuve delivers a visually stunning and thought-provoking film. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner deliver poised performances in their respective roles. Adams in particular displays a poignant range of emotions that provides the backbone to the plot. However given the strength of the script, any of the top crop of actors could have been moulded in. Forest Whitaker is relegated to the generic army colonel tasked in identifying the purpose of the aliens. However, the true standouts of the film are – the stunning and soothing cinematography by Bradford Young, the bittersweet symphony by Jóhann Jóhannsson that looms over the entire film, the powerfully adapted screenplay by Eric Heisserer and the masterful direction by Denis Villeneuve. But above all, credit to the original story by Chiang. It warrants for a ‘don’t miss a minute’ watch!
– Varun Kumar | Enterapped
Max Richter’s class composition track ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’ heard in Arrival has also been used in a handful of other movies including Shutter Island.
Cast – Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma