ARRIVAL

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) is in the midst of his journey through Blade Runner 2049—the first big-budget franchise addition to a revered intellectual property he’s helming. Arrival, thus, may just be his last intimate movie out in cinemas before he makes another one.

Except, it doesn’t feel so intimate. This, if one’s to go by the buzz, seems to be an alien invasion film. Whether it is another addition to a long list of irrelevant names would be difficult to surmise before it is watched. The horde of talent surrounding this film is sure to bring in some fascination, however—an inkling of hope, perhaps?

Coming from the director of Enemy and Prisoners, it’d have to be a lot more than an inkling.

THE MOVIE

This is the story of YOUR life

In what could possibly be one of the best endings to any film this year, Arrival cleverly breaks the boundaries of a film’s compulsion to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Its smart narrative excellently discusses time, and how it is nothing but an illusion; a social construct for the usage of humans around the world. Heisserer (Lights Out) and Villeneuve make the best use of its specific narrative style—which exists, not as a gimmick, but for a strong reason.

Cinematographer Bradford Young, who makes stunning use of visual space to enhance the emotional response of its viewers, goes for the otherwise plain trademark of tilting the camera from a low angle to a front angle. This specific type of movement in camera would, in other films, classify as an unassuming establishing shot. With Villeneuve, however, even the presence of smallest; most insignificant of things—Sicario’s repeated focus on rays of light bringing microscopic particles to the attention of the naked eye, or Enemy’s callous usage of spiders as MacGuffins, for example—are absolutely justifiable.

[Denis] Villeneuve aside, however, the clear winners are the film editor Joe Walker, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and actor Amy Adams.ANKIT OJHA

Villeneuve aside, however, the clear winners are the film editor Joe Walker, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and actor Amy Adams. While Walker and Jóhannsson need very little explanation of their presence—the latter blends his love for minimalist atmospheric sounds with rhythmic chanting and the use of a wide range of eclectic instruments has the potential to bring the overall response of the viewers to a dazzling emotional peak—it is Adams who walks away with the biggest prize. Every part of her performance, right down to her body language, never betrays herself from the woman she plays. The act itself is quite subdued, but the humanity she lends to her character arc in itself resonates louder than words could.

Other performers aren’t far behind. Forest Whitaker’s role often feels more like a stock character that has nothing noteworthy to contribute to the movie, but he sails his prop of a role smoothly to shore. Jeremy Renner, who may not have as much to do as Adams—this is completely, and unwaveringly, her film—doesn’t disappoint either. What he cannot make up for in overall presence, he does with the sincerity and effortlessness he lends his character

Purpose. Of living, Of connection. Of learning.

VERDICT

It would be unwise to bracket Arrival as your everyday alien-invasion blockbuster film viewers have come to expect (and possibly ridicule). Far from what its pre-release campaigns want us to believe, Villeneuve’s latest shatters all tropes, instead being an almost meditative musing of time, and humanity’s learning and unlearning of it. While it may not entirely reach its dazzling ambitions, it’s still an almost perfect, and emotionally compelling, piece of science-fiction that focusses not on spectacle, but instead on one of humanity’s core needs: connection.

Watch the trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Star Rating:

Plot

Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is approached to decode and translate the language of extraterrestrial beings in an attempt to understand the reason of their arrival. As it turns out, their purpose may have little to do with what the people around the world have come to think.

Cast

Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Forest Whitaker

Director

Denis Villeneuve

Rated

PG-13

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Cast Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Forest Whitaker
Director Denis Villeneuve
Star Rating

THE PLOT

Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is approached to decode and translate the language of extraterrestrial beings in an attempt to understand the reason of their arrival. As it turns out, their purpose may have little to do with what the people around the world have come to think.

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

Director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) is in the midst of his journey through Blade Runner 2049—the first big-budget franchise addition to a revered intellectual property he’s helming. Arrival, thus, may just be his last intimate movie out in cinemas before he makes another one.

Except, it doesn’t feel so intimate. This, if one’s to go by the buzz, seems to be an alien invasion film. Whether it is another addition to a long list of irrelevant names would be difficult to surmise before it is watched. The horde of talent surrounding this film is sure to bring in some fascination, however—an inkling of hope, perhaps?

Coming from the director of Enemy and Prisoners, it’d have to be a lot more than an inkling.

THE MOVIE

Setting sail

In what could possibly be one of the best endings to any film this year, Arrival cleverly breaks the boundaries of a film’s compulsion to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Its smart narrative excellently discusses time, and how it is nothing but an illusion; a social construct for the usage of humans around the world. Heisserer (Lights Out) and Villeneuve make the best use of its specific narrative style—which exists, not as a gimmick, but for a strong reason.

Cinematographer Bradford Young, who makes stunning use of visual space to enhance the emotional response of its viewers, goes for the otherwise plain trademark of tilting the camera from a low angle to a front angle. This specific type of movement in camera would, in other films, classify as an unassuming establishing shot. With Villeneuve, however, even the presence of smallest; most insignificant of things—Sicario’s repeated focus on rays of light bringing microscopic particles to the attention of the naked eye, or Enemy’s callous usage of spiders as MacGuffins, for example—are absolutely justifiable.

[Denis] Villeneuve aside, however, the clear winners are the film editor Joe Walker, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and actor Amy Adams.ANKIT OJHA

Villeneuve aside, however, the clear winners are the film editor Joe Walker, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, and actor Amy Adams. While Walker and Jóhannsson need very little explanation of their presence—the latter blends his love for minimalist atmospheric sounds with rhythmic chanting and the use of a wide range of eclectic instruments has the potential to bring the overall response of the viewers to a dazzling emotional peak—it is Adams who walks away with the biggest prize. Every part of her performance, right down to her body language, never betrays herself from the woman she plays. The act itself is quite subdued, but the humanity she lends to her character arc in itself resonates louder than words could.

Other performers aren’t far behind. Forest Whitaker’s role often feels more like a stock character that has nothing noteworthy to contribute to the movie, but he sails his prop of a role smoothly to shore. Jeremy Renner, who may not have as much to do as Adams—this is completely, and unwaveringly, her film—doesn’t disappoint either. What he cannot make up for in overall presence, he does with the sincerity and effortlessness he lends his character

Captain Hook

VERDICT

It would be unwise to bracket Arrival as your everyday alien-invasion blockbuster film viewers have come to expect (and possibly ridicule). Far from what its pre-release campaigns want us to believe, Villeneuve’s latest shatters all tropes, instead being an almost meditative musing of time, and humanity’s learning and unlearning of it. While it may not entirely reach its dazzling ambitions, it’s still an almost perfect, and emotionally compelling, piece of science-fiction that focusses not on spectacle, but instead on one of humanity’s core needs: connection.

Watch trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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