Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ARRIVAL Movie Review

It's hard to catch up on on reading when there are so many wonderful movies out there. Between films and books, I tend to go where the gratification is faster. Though books are arguably more satisfying, there will be times that a brilliant film will come along and just blow you away. 

Arrival is one of those films.

I watched this without high expectations and with little knowledge about the film, All I knew then was that it was based on the novella Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang, which unfortunately I have not read. But I truly believe that having little info about the film added to my viewing enjoyment.

The story starts with a somber mood despite the arrival of extra terrestrials in odd-shaped vessels suspended on air. There's panic and tension, but it's not overplayed. It's unlike any alien invasion film I've seen in recent years. This is because we are challenged to look beyond the invasion and look deeply into human psyche when presented with something extraordinary.

Linguist Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) is summoned to decipher the alien messages which are not spoken, but instead presented in visual patterns and complex symbols. The two alien heptapods called Abbot and Costello communicate with Louise in a deeper level, with Louise having flashforwards.

Although we are led to believe that Louise is having flashbacks of her daughter's death, what's actually happening is that she is seeing the future, an ability that is a "gift" from the visitors. At that point, we realize that this is more than just an alien invasion story. It poses a quandary. If one could have a window into the future, would one accept a fate as painful as losing someone you love?

This complicates Louise's relationship with physicist Ian (Jeremy Renner). Louise knew that Ian will become the father of her daughter Hannah, But despite knowing in advance her daughter's death and Ian's eventual abandonment, Louise still chose that path. This is where the alien invasion story takes a backseat to human story.

With superb acting, stunning visual effects, and skillful direction, Arrival will move and mesmerize you from start to finish.

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