Film review: Arrival

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve

Forget for a moment any preconceptions you may have for a movie with aliens. Now go see Arrival. That is one of the only and best recommendations I can specifically give for a film. It is so singularly introspective and meaningful in its ambitions that I have to urge as many people as possible to go see it.

From Denis Villeneuve, the master behind last year’s spectacular Sicario and many more, him and his team have hands down crafted one of the greatest films of the year.

The film focuses on following linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks played by Amy Adams, as she is taken in by the government to decipher the sounds and language of an alien species that has recently landed on Earth. To uncover any more of the plot here would be a disservice to the expertly paced plotting of the film, that rests heavily on Adams’ shoulders. She gives an unfiltered and sober look into this woman’s life that respects the viewer’s intelligence to follow along with the plot. The nuance and tone of her performance creates such an impact that if she is not given even greater praise come awards season, it will be a heavy disappointment.

All of the other cast members including Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker do a great job in trying to uncover the reason for the seemingly random appearance of these extraterrestrials.

The film sets its tone in its initial moments, a quiet and somber take on the relationships we create that is both uplifting and crushing in the same moment. Cinematographer Bradford Young, who is gaining due momentum with his work, crafts such subtly beautiful and gigantic shots that convey such a weight to the world, grounding it as close to real and effective as one could hope.

Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score, while similar to Mica Leví’s ethereal tracks from other alien feature Under the Skin, is ambitious and clean cut, as if it was being prepped for an operation. Its synth-electronic functions as an extension to the aliens language, blending in an essential way to the unwinding narrative.

With Sicario, the nail-bitingly dark Prisoners, and experimental Enemy, Villeneuve has taken to crafting the most expressive and impressive catalogue of films in decades. The way he has crafted his newest film is a testament to his admirable work ethic and commitment to creating the most realized film possible.

The genius craft of Arrival is sturdily manned by Villeneuve, up next he tackles the Godfather of science-fiction with Blade Runner 2049 and if he continues the striking originality and commitment to the product as he has shown so far, his career as a filmmaker and Canadian will stand as a high standard and watermark for the modern era of cinema.