I do not care for sci-fi films. Usually the aliens are incredibly creepy with slob crowning in the rise of their jaw like in "Alien vs. Predator" or is actually a blob like in "War of the Worlds". When "Arrival" arrived to theaters two years ago, I nearly ignored it. Now having seen the film, I wish I saw it in theaters.
"Arrival" is about the presence of twelve alien spacecrafts discovered in twelve places in the world. Louise (Amy Adams) is an linguist recruited by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to decipher what the aliens, also known as heptapods, are saying.
When the audience meets Louise, she is recalling the relationship with her daughter. Idyllic and reflective, also necessary in the moments where frustration rears in Louise's thoughts. Ian (Jeremy Renner) is a physicist who works with Louise. The connection between Louise and Ian adds a dimension of action and intrigue by how they learn from each other.
Where most alien invasion films fall into destruction for survival, this film is about communication. Building foundation of language from the basics for understanding what the aliens want from them. The heptapods form intricate symbols through the ink from their bodies as their point of communication. The spacecraft is a pod that sits right above the place it occupies. Affirming in the space. It is quite commanding. Chaos does occur around the unknown of discovering the spacecrafts. Impatience also fosters the chaos and barrels from Weber to Louise to find something . Time moves in a beautiful way that even if you blink, an intricate piece of the storyline could be missed. Louise and Ian get their blood checked daily as well as their bodies scrubbed down, for fear of radiation exposure. Exhaustion, delusion and repetition are tacked onto the work.
Denis Villeneuve directed the film, giving an incredible vision. All of the performances are stunning, even as Forest had a somewhat bad New York accent. The adaptation by Eric Heisserer of "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chang is breathtaking, especially for a short story. Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson created a stunning score vital for each scene. I naively have underestimated the beauty of a sci-film.