Film Review 2017 – Spotlight: “Arrival”

Stephanie Katherine Y., Co-Editor/Contributor

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At first glance, “Arrival” is  another science-fiction film filled with aliens and the impending doom of earth’s demise looming over all creation. However, when one looks beyond the mere subject matter and into the storytelling and acting of “Arrival,” they realize that this film is so much more. Director Denis Villeneuve helms the production, bringing a softness and emotionally driven story to the backdrop of seemingly cliche genre. The story follows linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, as she is enlisted by the United States government to interpret the tongue of the aliens that have suddenly landed across the globe. Adams portrays Banks with poise and stillness, allowing her silence to permeate between the dialogue and give the audience a window into this character’s soul. The profound compassion Banks has for the aliens and the way she takes a personal interest in connecting to them and their language demonstrates Adams skill as an actress; by merely looking off into the distance, we feel the entirety of her character, her pain, her joy, and her loneliness.

Villeneuve, who garnered an Oscar nomination for his directing (and rightfully so) of “Arrival,” not only artfully constructed the story to delve deeper into the lives of the characters as the film progressed, but also created a visual dialogue between the character’s emotional life and the cinematography that was exceptional. By focusing almost entirely on Banks and her struggle to teach these aliens how to communicate before it is too late, Villeneuve uses tight frames and motivated lighting to put the audience in Bank’s mind and her reactions to the changing surrounding behind her. He artfully brings the lyrical style of 20th century directors such as Tarkovsky and Bergman to a big-budget science-fiction film, bridging the two genres, and subsequently creating a captivating and new genre.

 

Final Verdict: 9/10

“Arrival” uses the science fiction backdrop of aliens invading the earth, in order to portray an emotional driven story that follows the plight of a woman who struggles to grapple with her sudden connection to the aliens while simultaneously saving the world. The story is told in a lyrical yet simple fashion that makes the audience fall into the story and the life of the characters on screen.

 

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Film Review 2017 – Spotlight: “Arrival”