Arrival Review: Recalling That Life Is A Journey

Posted on 28 November, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Image Courtesy: Vox

Based on an award winning short story titled ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, Arrival is a sci-fi mystery drama directed by Denis Villeneuve of the Sicario and Prisoners fame. The film won the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival and was also nominated for the Golden Lion (Best Film).


The plot is focussed on the life of Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguistics professor who finds herself on a mission days after 12 gigantic spaceships touch down at various locations around the world. Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) assembles a team of elite investigators that includes theoretical physicist Ian Donnelley (Jeremy Renner) to understand why extraterrestrials have come down to our planet.


Every 18 hours, a hatch beneath the ship opens, which lets researchers attempt communication with aliens. But before the team begins receiving any answers, Louise must decipher their language, if they have one.


Written by Eric Heisserer with the cinematography of Bradford Young, the film is a work of brilliance in every department. It pushes you to crack the puzzle. You catch yourself multiple times trying to find a pattern - maybe in the number of spaceships, the locations they’ve parked at, or the inky circular messages. Johann Johannsson’s music flows well and keeps you in on the suspense.


There is a poetic detail in the visual storytelling of the film. The over the shoulder shots, the blurry tinge on happy/sad moments and the paranoid camera movements disturb you slightly until the plot comes together an hour and a half into the film, and your mind is blown.


Amy Adams is outstandingly brilliant in the film. With barely any dialogues she’s voiced all of her character’s thoughts through her frayed face, shaky hands, and breathless body language.


The film tells you a new, never heard before story of an invasion, the one without any battles or explosions (maybe one). However, it ends happy and makes you think for hours. Just when you begin putting the pieces of this puzzle together, Louise asks, “If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?” That one question is the heart of the film’s story and might stay with you longer than expected.


While the film is intelligent, it is not on the lines of Interstellar or Inception; the joy of watching the film is deciphering the puzzle yourself.




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