Being immersed in production right now, it’s comforting to know that one of the best filmmakers working today, French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve, is hard at work on a Blade Runner follow-up as his new film, Arrival, hits screens. Why is it comforting? Well, with Arrival being his first foray into the sci-fi genre, it’s safe to say that there aren’t any growing or adjustment pains, as Villeneuve hits this story in stride as he always has with each new film in on his resume. Being a filmmaker who never disappoints his ravenous audience, me included, the master has provided another masterpiece, one I will be constantly unraveling in my head, a movie that has shot to the top of my list in 2016.
Based on a short story called “Story Of Your Life”, which was actually the working title of the film. The story of the film centers around the arrival of twelve alien ships on our planet in present day. Each monolith hovers above the ground and has released nothing to cause the governing bodies of the world to feel defensive or optimistic, but paranoia is rampant and it is questionable if each country can work together. Renowned linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is brought in to try and set up a bridge of communication between the world leaders and these extraterrestrials before the non-action may cause some terrified trigger happy consequences.
Stunning from the opening shot, you know you are about to see something special as the camera slowly pans down to reveal Dr. Banks’ beautiful picturesque front window of her house. Pairing, this time, with Selma cinematographer Bradford Young, Villeneuve’s genius method is on display in all of its glory. The script, written by usual horror scribe Eric Heisserer is full of all the scientific, academic and government jargon to make the realism of the events completely plausible, which feels kind of crazy as it’s about our first contact with an alien species. Arrival feels almost like a “what if” story that leans more towards a “when it” story.
Amy Adams delivers a knockout performance in this film that completely erases her brutally lackluster work as Lois Lane in Man Of Steel and Batman v. Superman, adding some incredible emotional weight to Louise’s character. Jeremy Renner, playing the scientific counterpart to the investigative team, channels a dramatic side that worked so well for him in the Academy Award-winning film, The Hurt Locker. The real star of this movie is the production work on this film, that will leave jaws glued to the floor for the entire two-hour duration. It’s obvious that Denis Villeneuve works incredibly close with this team and makes sure every aesthetic is in place for his vision. Again, Denis Villeneuve blows past what is expected of him and brings us something off of the beaten path we are used to and the end result is something special entirely on its own, away from any set genre. Arrival is an incredible film, a total gift of cinema. 5/5