Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Canadian Dennis Villeneuve created enough stimulating movies in his career to be considered one of the most important filmmakers of our times. One can easily reach this conclusion when analyzing gems like “Incendies”, “Polytechnique”, "Prisoners", “Enemy”, and “Sicario”.
His latest gift, “Arrival”, is a puzzling, and somewhat opaque sci-fi thriller, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as a linguist and a theoretical physicist, respectively, who are recruited by the U.S. military to deal with an inscrutable extraterrestrial visit to Earth.
Villeneuve directed from a script by Eric Heisserer whose source material was Ted Chiang's 1998 short story "Story of Your Life".
The film is given a lyrical treatment in the first minutes when focusing on the ‘visions’ of Louise Banks (Adams), an exceptional linguist whose mind seems to recreate moments spent with her little daughter who died from cancer. The airy imagery and imposing chamber music soon give place to a tense atmosphere and disturbing sounds associated with the arrival of 12 unexpected alien spacecrafts spread across the globe.
Louise is immediately summoned by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and taken to Montana, where one of the spacecrafts is stationed.
She’s seen as a fundamental key in the discovering of what are the invaders' purposes on Earth, but the progress in the communication with two of the apparently friendly octopus-like aliens are suddenly compromised when China’s General Shang (Tzi Ma) threats to retaliate if the strange creatures don’t abandon his country.
Louise reveals extra sensorial abilities, communicating with the aliens through written and gestural language. However, the responses come in the form of complex circular symbols that are hard to decipher. Obstinate to know more about them, Louise also concludes that her strange visions are not related to the past but rather to the future.
“Arrival” is a balanced confluence of “Signs” and “Enemy”. From the former, Villeneuve absorbs the expectation associated with the visits, and from the latter, he withdraws the ruminative and enigmatic tones.
The pace is never raised and the screen doesn't catch fire in any circumstance. However, what Villeneuve puts on the table is enough to hold our attention and keep us alert.
This understated, communicative endeavor is a blast of creativity.