Arrival (Film Review) – A Slow But Engaging Film With A Clever Twist

Arrival is a science fiction thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. The film is based on Story of Your Life which is a short story written by Ted Chiang and Arrival tells the story of twelve mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft landing across various locations on Earth and how humanity responds to this event.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Arrival

This has been a film which I have been looking forward to seeing for a while. The calibre of the cast was partly responsible for this, especially after I saw Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals which I recently reviewed. Nevertheless, it was the fact that Arrival was being directed by Denis Villeneuve which really made me excited.

Denis Villeneuve and Amy Adams on the set of Arrival

He is one of the best director’s working at the moment and he has made some really great films such as Prisoners and Sicario with the latter itself being one of my favourite films to come out last year. Additionally, Arrival had been getting great reviews and critics I highly admire really liked it so my expectations were quite high going into this film.

My Thoughts on Arrival

I was not disappointed. Arrival is a very good film which is visually impressive. Moreover, it challenges the audience and it features great performances from its cast with Amy Adams being the standout in the lead role. You should not expect this to be an alien invasion film full of action. Instead, you should expect to watch a film which is slow but engaging, deep and full of important themes such as communication, co-operation, rashness and irrational fear.

Villeneuve structures Arrival in such a way that suspense and sound are critical tools to tell a story which is quite unique and, as I said before, challenging for the audience. Certainly, Arrival will make you think deeply about what choices you would make in the situations the film presents to the audience, especially in the latter stages of the film which delivers a very clever twist that changes your whole perception of the film. For some, the twist won’t deliver but, for me personally, it worked very well.

It Left Me Feeling Sad

As you can see, I think that Arrival is a very good film but the overall feeling I had at the end of the film was one of sadness. The reason why I felt this way was down to the fact that one of the strongest themes throughout the film was the eventual need for humanity to communicate, to work together and to overcome fear and prejudice.

Poster showing an Alien Ship in Arrival

The incident in the film which allowed this to happen was, quite frankly, a miracle and it just shows how flawed we our as a species that it takes extraordinary events to make us come together and work for the greater good. It made me realise that this is not likely to happen in the near future, especially after a certain election caused a bigoted, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic “man” to become President of the most powerful country in the world.

Overall, Arrival is a film which has great performances and has a unique story which challenges its audience and can cause a variety of emotional responses. For some, this film will be a nice tonic at a time of fear, prejudice and hate. For others such as myself, it will make us sad and reaffirm the harsh reality that times of widespread co-operation, love and understanding amongst humanity is a rare thing. It will be even rarer with the way the world is going at the moment.

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