Arrival isn’t just the best science-fiction movie of the year, its one of the best pictures period. An awe inspiring, deep dive into humanity and language that above all else feels soulful and moving.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Don’t let the genre fool you, like the very best of science fiction movies Arrival reaches far beyond flashy concepts and its alien ‘first contact’ premise. This is a contemplative, achingly beautiful movie about human nature, our desire to communicate and discover the unknown. Best of all, it is as intimate in its observations as it is epic in its ambition.
12 mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, with no explanation or reason. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is tasked with communicating with them to find out their true purpose.
Mind bending movies are nothing new, but in most science fiction movies there is often emotional detachment from the story. The human aspect is almost always sucked out, and left dry in favor of the delicious mysteries and plot twists. Arrival throws these tropes out of the way, and instead tells a personal, human story. Villeneuve does amazing work here, grounding the unbelievable events in a manner that gives them an eerie amount of weight. The sequences of first contact are as unnervingly close to how a scenario like this would play out in reality, with the air of mystery feeling both dangerous and intoxicating. Amy Adams however is the real star of the show, carrying the films complex emotions all on her face, its a quietly powerful performance that should at least be nominated if not outright win.
The story itself isn’t so much focused on the alien beings, but rather shines a mirror on humanity. Our insecurities, our disconnection as a species, Arrival explores lofty ideas like these without ever feeling pretentious. There is a tremendous sense of discovery embedded within Arrival, and i would hate to rob you of that. The third act may require too much suspension of disbelief for some audiences, but its grasp on exploring human nature remains compelling until the end, and is too powerful to ignore.
Must watch for: Fans of science fiction and drama.