Dir: Denis Villeneuve | Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forrest Whittaker | US Canada | Sci-Fi | 120min
We can always expect something fresh and exciting from Canadian filmmakers and Denis Villeneuve delivers just that with this Venice Competition entry: a Sci-fi thriller based on a positive premise: that non-verbal communication has the power to save the world.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as academics hired by the US military to attempt a parly with the aliens that arrive in a mysterious pod-shaped spacecraft that lands in the Montana farmland. This is a crisp and pristinely packaged piece of kit that brings no blood-letting or gruesome images in its wake. Instead it feels like a dreamily intelligent vision giving an uplifting image of an imagined future where our scientists and, particularly, our linguistic specialists can use their brainpower and training to bring about good and heal our troubled, wartorn planet.
And it is a woman who naturally will bring this into being. As a professor of linguistics, Amy Adams gives a deeply sensuous and emotionally intelligent performance in this adult drama whose tension and palpable terror rises out of the cherished hope that human communication could be the answer rather than malign or nefarious forces. Suffering from an intangible loss or beareavement she harnesses her innermost intuition and professional training in an attempt to reach out amicably and sensitively to the seven legged shapeshifters or heptopods that emerge from the summit of the pod. Scripted by Eric Heisserer, ARRIVAL is based on Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, and feels very much like Close Encounters in its subtle approach to the interplanetary arrivals unspooling as a peaceful and intelligently nuanced arthouse outing. Ambitious in scope and exquisitely mounted, there are minor flaws and ambiguities in the plotting that occasionally arise out of the parallel narrative of present and future. That said, the spirit of adventure and compromise is laudable in this decidedly upliting and inventive film that will make you leave you with a smile, if not the odd tear. MT
NOW ON RELEASE FROM 11 NOVEMBER 2016 | REVIEWED AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2016