Denis Villeneuve goes Interstellar
Why are they here? That’s the question written on all of Denis Villleneuve’s new sci-fi thriller Arrival’s publicity. “Why are they here?” it seems like an easy enough problem to solve however, what Villeneuve has created is something that is far more complicated than just a single question.
That’s the genius of Arrival, from start to finish it continually peaks our curiosity, and then lets it all simmer down to one simple question again “what is their purpose on earth?” that is the question which the characters within the film ask of themselves, and is also their only mission objective.
That’s how Arrival works with one question at a time. It’s this subtle and deliberate pace that Villeneuve has become known for, in both Prisoners and Sicario’s he was in no rush to show the audience anything, he rather opt’s to allow the camera to linger on a character. This confidence in both himself and his talents is vital to Arrivals’ success.
As usual with Villeneuve’s work, Arrival is filled with ideas and messages to the audience, it lets you enter at the level you feel most comfortable, but there is barley a wasted motion towards something deeper behind what’s shown. On one level this is a film about difference and how it is most important to understand another persons perspective before acting, and on another it’s a commentary about how we are all moving towards a singular destiny that is singled out for us alone.
I truly think that at this time both of those messages are so important, on the day after Donald Trump is announced as president of the most powerful country in the world, and a time when Britain is filled with fear, pride and more fear about the ultimate effects of Brexit, we are a world divided.
One of Arrival’s biggest strength is in it’s unique take on the genre, where most films would simple jump into the action of a world at war gun’s blazing and flags high, Arrival takes almost the entire film on simple try to learn the language, in that respect it is most like Dances With Wolves in tone.
The alien’s themselves are also unique, they have the appearance of a squid mixed with a human hand, they are slow with their movements and always come across as reserved. They write entire sentences in their own language with a flick of the wrist and it is beautiful to see.
Of course the entire film is held together with the two central performances in Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, both put on such honest portals that you direly look away from the screen. They are captivating. One troubled by a traumatic past and the other a scientist in every way.
Now I will say that the ending is both confusing, and feels somewhat forced as if it comes out of nowhere, but in the same manner it feels like the perfect pay off to what has come previously.
Arrival is a well judged, methodically paced sci-fi thriller that takes the entire genre in a whole new direction, if we allow it, this could be one of the most important of the last decade.