In this enforced era of spoilers and plot leaks, being clueless about a highly anticipated movie is a true blessing. Such is the case of Arrival; with its typical trailers and generic promotion I took the liberty of being presumptuous about the movie. Evidently, my cockiness didn’t stand a chance.
With Denis Villeneuve at the helms of the project, something unimaginable and incomprehensible was in store for us. Arrival is an erratic anecdote of the world trying to deal with 12 strange Extra terrestrial ships. Completely clueless about the intentions of aliens, Governments and citizens around the world are trying their own resolve, some trying trying to wage war and some trying to make amends. Americans approach a linguist named Louise Banks (Amy Adams), for help. Louise along with a physicist named Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) has to figure out the motive behind the visit of the extra terrestrial by having complex communication with the aliens themselves.
Most of the movie fixates upon the primary character Louise Banks, a Linguist getting supposed flashbacks or visions of incidents related to her family whilst trying to resolve global catastrophic phenomenon. Like Sicario, Denis has pulled of an entire movie fixating on a women character without a man coming to save the day. It is an extreme pleasure watching a grounded yet extraordinary character trying to decode an immensely complex alien language and absolutely nailing it.
It is through her perspective we truly get to feel the excitement of a conjectural discovery and the horror of a possible mishap. Watching Louise making dialogue with the aliens is haunting yet enthralling. Throughout the movie we get to see some glimpses about her personal life (as visions), wondering if it was actually required but gradually realizing their importance.
Strange as it may sound the aliens too have a ‘character’ in this movie which absolutely contradicts their appearance. Unlike many other Sci-fi movies, aliens in Arrival don’t have big scary eyes (for the sake of being scary) or a demeanor of a shark to just mindlessly attack everything that comes in its way. They actually have a justified purpose of visiting Earth, they too communicate, express and feel. I’m not going to give away if they are actually good or bad but I was truly intimidated by their presence on the screen.
The movie takes a humongous leap of faith entirely on editing. It starts with the audience discovering that Dr Louis banks has lost a loved one and instantly we switch to strange pod shaped ships appearing at 12 different location in the world. The pods just stand there doing nothing which makes the government nervous, so a pursuit for answers is initiated (which involves Dr Louis Banks and Ian Donnelly). In this pursuit, the plot unfolds itself in the most peculiar manner, taking extremely irrevocable surges. The editing of the movie leaves us with pieces of the puzzle which when put together in the end makes us spellbound.
Another thing which goes unnoticed but has a huge impact on the story and our own real opinions is the use of linguistics, metaphor and philosophy. I’ve never wondered if a language means so much until I watched this movie. The idea of “Our minds evolve by the languages we learn” and “We can’t distinguish colors unless we don’t have a word for it our vocabulary” will continue to spook me. Arrival elucidates language in an entirely different light, going on to demonstrate how language shaped everything and is so much more than just words.
Arrival is the most clever movie of the year, with slow yet crisp pace.It is blessed with simple and luminous cinematography and marvelous editing. There are seldom moments where you find yourself distracted. With inconceivable plot and unpredictable climax, Arrival will toy with your emotions, patience and intellect and leave you enchanted with its glory.It’s an assortment of ambiguous narration and subtle performance that was bound to sway.Denis Villeneuve surely will find a place in your favorite director list with this piece.