• FILM

  • SEARCH FOR

Arrival

Arrival

Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma. (2016, PG-13, 116 min.)

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 11, 2016

Arrival has a puzzle at its center, one that we’ve toyed with many times before: What do we do when the aliens arrive and, just as important, how do we communicate with them? This is the conundrum confronting the protagonists of Denis Villeneuve’s new film, the depressed linguist Louise Banks (Adams, crushing it), and Ian Donnelly (Renner), a cosmologist with a healthy dose of brainiac optimism. Louise is depressed because her daughter has died young from an illness. This information is relayed in a painful but perfectly pitched montage that echoes the entire film’s sense of wonder and sorrow. The antagonists, as per usual, are not necessarily the recent intergalactic arrivals but instead the militaries of the world who – again, as ever – can’t seem to unite unless Jeff Goldblum is somehow involved. The human race itself is indicted, as the appearance of twelve stony, ovum-shaped UFOs appear hovering just yards over the earth at various far-flung locales. Linguist and scientist must race against the worst natures of their own species and learn to converse with the aliens before global catastrophe.

Arrival is a thoughtfully realistic depiction of how such an event might play out, and with Adams in the lead, it’s also a deeply soulful film, shot through with loss, regret, and hope. Like almost all great sci-fi films it’s less about the alien unknown than it is about the human condition. Fans of Interstellar will recognize its vibe straightaway, and tonally the film owes a great debt to Robert Wise’s 1951 genre classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (not to be confused with the execrable 2008 “re-imagining”). The script, adapted by Eric Heisserer from Ted Chiang’s fine short story, is a model of nuance and restraint most of the time – there’s one superficial and distracting subplot about a steely-eyed soldier that feels oddly out of place – but it's the striking imagery and ominous sound design that really stick with you.

No, scratch that last bit. What really stays stuck in your memory long after the movie has ended and the world has been saved, or just as likely not, is the ache at the heart of the world Villeneuve has created. Louise, lost in her grief until she is confronted by something even more powerful, is a decidedly unconventional sci-fi heroine, but one whose suffering and revelations feel as intimately recognizable as a starry night or a tear on a pillow.

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500  512/291-3158

www.southwesttheaters.com

matinees $2, 6pm and after $3, $1.50 extra for 3-D; $6 for special engagements

FRI MAR 24

CC: 10:10

SAT MAR 25

CC: 10:10

SUN MAR 26

CC: 10:10

MON MAR 27

CC: 10:10

TUE MAR 28

CC: 10:10

WED MAR 29

CC: 10:10

THU MAR 30

CC: 10:10
READ MORE
More Denis Villeneuve Films
Sicario
Taut, morally ambiguous thriller is set on the U.S./Mexico border

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 2, 2015

Prisoners
Jake Gyllenhaal is a detective working a troubling case, and Hugh Jackman's wound-up father of the victim is just one of his problems.

Marc Savlov, Sept. 27, 2013

More by Marc Savlov
All Nighter
A father searches for his daughter with the help of her ex-boyfriend

March 24, 2017

T2 Trainspotting
The sequel to the 1996 classic

March 24, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)