Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
This is unlike any alien invasion Film you have ever seen.
Amy Adams plays expert Linguists Professor Louise Banks. When 12 alien space crafts land in different locations across the world, she gets asked by the government to help. She ends up leading the American team trying to figure out why the aliens have invaded earth. Yet, it’s only Banks who believes the aliens came to help humanity. The rest of the world thinks they arrived to take over earth. When other countries have a miscommunication with the aliens, the threat of a global war ensues. Banks knows its up to her to understand the aliens language in order to figure out the truth. And she risks her life doing it.
Canadian Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve never disappoints, and Arrival is no exception. He makes the audience feel like they are apart of the Film. He does this effortlessly through the use of a camera. There’s an atmosphere to the Film that Villeneuve has created with the use of sound, that forces the audience to feel what Banks feels. In doing so, Villeneuve creates a Sci-Fi Film that easily feels real. He does all this with a script that could be easily confusing. Eric Heisserer wrote the screenplay in a very complicated way. Time isn’t linear and that’s what this Film is about. And the script was written in the same way. Making the Film hard to follow if it isn’t in the hands of a top-notch Director, like Villeneuve. He makes it easy for the audience to follow along to a Film that isn’t in a linear storytelling format. I’m sure there will be the few that leave the cinema confused, because it does get over-complicated at times. But for how complex the script is, Villeneuve makes is as comprehensible as possible.
Adams has a commanding presence in this Film. There’s a long sequence near the beginning of the Film that follows Banks as she’s about to embark into the alien space craft. Her breath, eyes, and posture say so much without her barely speaking in the scene. Jeremy Renner plays Ian Donnelly who works with Banks. In Sci-Fi Films we’re used to seeing males in leading roles and females in supporting. In this case, there is a reverse of the norms. Renner is the comic relief and aid to carry along Banks’ story. Casting a woman in the lead role makes the story more believable. Banks feels empathy for the aliens. She wants to understand them and teach them language. Audiences would have a harder time believing a male would have empathy toward the aliens. Because of the social norms in our society, it’s easy to believe a female would. This makes for one of the best casting choices of the year.
Arrival is a Film that is going to shock many because it’s an alien invasion story unlike any seen before. Arrival does go over the top at times and has scenes that are boosted by CGI. But, the message is one that speaks volumes over the visual effects. The Film’s message is that language is the most important thing in the world, and that it can be messy and complicated. And a question it leaves audiences with is: if you could see your entire life from beginning to end, would you change anything?
Paramount Pictures Canada release ARRIVAL Friday, November 11, 2016.