Sunday, March 5, 2017

Film Review: Arrival (2016)

Copyright: Paramount Pictures
Let’s lay down the fact in a clear and hard-hitting way, like a good news reporter covering an event. 

Firstly, does Arrival include kids getting a terminal disease? Yes, it does. Does the film begin with the same notion, opening directly into this illness and all the tragedy and sadness that come from it? Yep.
Well, for a lot of people, this is equal to emotional manipulation on the highest level. Most of those people hated the film or they didn’t even complete it. But, at the same time, this is the only major element that can be claimed to be a problem for this film.

I’ll grant that sick kids immediately provoke something in us and they are not there by accident in any film, including Arrival, but for me, there was an intrinsic beauty in this masterpiece that didn’t even allow me to wallow on this opening cheap shot (which is not that cheap when the plot completes itself).

In the film, the best things from the fiction of Michael Crichton, including all those moments that induce a sense of wonder, fear and non-verbal amazement all at the same time - all of them are in this film. Whether it is Contact or Sphere, Arrival has that grand feeling about itself and it manages to use it with dignity and grace. As the team of scientists approach the alien spaceship, one of a dozen that just appeared above the earth’s surface, the audience steps inside with them, not only visually but also with their emotions. Here, the film sinks its hooks and does it perfectly.

The plot of the film and its captains, which includes not only Denis Villeneuve but also Amy Adams, steer it delicately yet decisively into a very personal story where all the cheap shot(s) from the start suddenly fall into place. Yes, Arrival is a film about alien visits and the magic of language, but more than any of that, it is a film about hope and love. Interstellar and Arrival begin in a similar manner, but the second movie then sheds its shallow skin and really immerses itself into an endless universe – not the physical one, but the one that is in the hearth of just one of its characters.