“Language is the cornerstone of civilisation”
Dennis Villeneuve, director of the highly acclaimed Prisoners and Sicario has redefined the sci-fi genre with his latest endeavour — Arrival. After premiering at the Venice Film Festival, both critics and viewers were praising the film for its unique take on what first seems to be another alien invasion film. It is no surprise that from the universal positive responses, Arrival is considered to be one to look out for at the Academy Awards.
Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, Arrival follows mysterious alien aircrafts called “shells”, which land on Earth, scattered across continents. America goes under a state of emergency as chaos ensues. Linguistics professor Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is approached by Colonel Webber (Forest Whitaker) who plays a recording of the aliens, seeking Louise to translate whether they come for war. The only way for Louise to do this is to see the aliens for herself. Joined by Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), the pair attempt to break down the language barrier, and communicate with the aliens.
The only thing sci-fi about this film are the aliens, otherwise Arrival would easily pass as an intense drama. It focuses on humanity and emotive elements, which makes the film successful. The aliens are these strange octopus/dementor like creatures, which use some sort of ink to communicate with Banks and her team. The wondrous cinematography captures the inside of the shell beautifully, and coupled with Johan Johannson’s chilling score, Arrival immerses you into the suspense of what lies ahead.
At the very start of the film it is established that Banks has suffered an emotional trauma, this goes on to haunt her dream/nightmares but serves a greater purpose, which provides an incredible, yet heart-breaking twist at the end. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner both give brilliant performances, their characters hold very different views, with Banks having a focus on language, and Donnelly preferring science. Despite this the pair undoubtedly have a connection that drives them to unravel the cryptic extra-terrestrial messages, no matter what the consequences.
Arrival is perhaps one of the most relevant films of modern day. It tackles a prevalent issue in society —communication. The film captures this global detachment, as all countries faced with the alien threat turn off their phone lines, and there is an all round lack of co-operation between them. Though ultimately it is only through working together can they solve the conundrum. Arrival is a powerful, and thought provoking film that you will continue to think about after coming out of the cinema.