Movie Review: Arrival

When the movie was over, I got into some banter with two total strangers about its meaning and message.

arrival_movie_posterI went to see the movie Arrival at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany alone; I’ve discovered that there are lots of people who won’t do that. A few days later, the Wife did the same thing.

Going in, I knew it was some sort of science fiction drama. Odd-looking spacecraft show up at 12 different locations around the globe, including in, or more correctly, over Montana. The military guy (Forest Whitaker) calls on an expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try to figure out what they want. Louise works with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and their teams to try to communicate with these alien beings.

But this takes time. People around the world are nervous. In a nod to the know-nothing media, we see some yahoo on the TV bashing the “do-nothing” government for failing to act promptly against this potential threat, yammering, though he has no idea what he’s talking about.

I liked this film enough to try to be relatively vague about it, lest I spoil it. Interesting that on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics like it a bit more (93%) than the fans (83%). It is generally a cerebral film. And when the movie was over, I got into some banter with two total strangers about its meaning and message, and whether the Louise character should have taken a certain actions, a conversation that I really enjoyed.

As a teacher of English as a New Language, the Wife really enjoyed the struggle to try to understand the language – if it IS a language – of the visitors. I was disappointed in not hearing why Portuguese is so different from other Romance languages.

The director of the film is Denis Villeneuve, who has a well-regarded body of work, but this the first film of his I have seen. I suspect Amy Adams will be nominated for an Oscar this season, if not for Arrival, then for the gritty-looking Nocturnal Animals.

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