Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay)
Directing his first movie since 2015’s Sicario and just before he starts work on the eagerly anticipated Bladerunner sequel, Denis Villeneuve is a busy man. There is also the 2017 Oscars ceremony that I am sure he will be attending to see if his latest work, Arrival will pick up the award for Best Picture or even a Best Director gong for himself.
Villeneuve directs the Eric Heisserer penned movie in which 12 spacecraft mysteriously appear overnight in different locations all over the world. The government enlist the help of skilled linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to help find out what these beings from another world want exactly and she is instructed to decipher their code of dialogue and communication to translate for them. The movie is segmented with varying flashbacks of Banks with her daughter throughout the early stages of her life and into her teenage years where an illness takes her life. This new revelation becomes a distraction to her and one that she probably needs.
Banks works alongside a team of scientists to enter one of the many pods and attempt to communicate with these lifeforms, but with time comes panic and despite keeping in constant contact with the heads of other countries, the fear of whether the visit is a threat becomes too much and matters are taken out of their hands.
Arrival begins life as a quiet piece of work. It is slow paced to begin with as the story of Banks’ character and the visit is told. It has a tranquil beauty to it with moments of glory and visual wonder, particularly during the scene when the team first enter one of the pods. From there, the pace remains the same for the majority of the movie and what began as an encouraging way of telling the tale actually becomes its downfall. Despite the movie’s ending offering us a twist, it lacked somehow in idea or originality. Nothing can be taken away from the performances, particularly that of Amy Adams which surprisingly didn’t earn her a nomination for Best Actress. The movie begins to slow as the plot and storyline fades out. The expectation of a grand finale falls on a twist in the plotline which bears no real relevance to the ending and is almost placed there just to somehow make it different. The expectation of action or a quickening of pace is soon gone as the climax of the movie somehow leaves us disappointed and short changed.
There are positives in the direction and the acting of some of Hollywood’s leading players. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker add weight to the casting, but there is no getting away from the fact that it’s a storyline with potential that ultimately fizzles out as the film is extinguished.