Director Dennis Villeneuve’s latest venture, ‘Arrival’ is a very intelligent piece of cinema. I use the word “intelligent” consciously. That’s because Arrival takes itself, and more importantly, its audience, seriously. I love the fact that this film treats the audience like intelligent individuals capable of understanding its themes and characters without spoon feeding them. There is some lazily executed exposition but considering the genre of the film, it’s kind of warranted.
Arrival reminds me some what of Interstellar. Both films talk about basic human emotions through a Sci Fi setting. However, I believe Arrival is slightly more mature because despite the temptation of using fancy Sci Fi gimmicks, Arrival gives precedence to the story over the genre. And that is very refreshing in recent times where every film in this genre is trying to trump each other with expensive VFX rather than a meaningful story.
Arrival’s biggest achievement is the way it has been treated. It somehow manages to blend realism with a genuine sense of amazement and fantasy which will leave you on the edge of your seat, at least for a brief period of time. When it comes to films about alien contact, this is probably one of the most realistic depiction of the same. In fact it gives a very grim depiction of how humans as a race would probably react if such an event was to take place. What I like most about Arrival, apart from its realism, is how approachable it is even to audiences who are not into Sci Fi.
Coming to the film’s story, I wouldn’t want to reveal much. Simply because the film relies on the audiences journey along with the characters to discover something which seems indecipherable. So I’m going to let that be. All you need to know about the story is that it very well crafted. It has some of the best foreshadowing I’ve seen in films these days, so watch this film closely. In fact I would love to give some spoilers to really discuss the film. All I’m going to say for now is that the end of this film is going to be remembered for a while.
Arrival is beautifully shot. It has some stellar performances (Amy Adams gives a great performance). But I think the real winner is the sound design of the film. I absolutely loved the way this film used its sound design to build up tense moments throughout. Unlike most films, the sound of Arrival is not manipulative in any way. It is not used cheaply so as to build hype without reason. Instead it is sort of the glue that packs this film together very well.
Arrival is in no way better than Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners’ but it definitely comes close. And that’s a good enough reason to watch it. Check out Arrival for its mature treatment of an age old concept and some very good performances.