by Cassie Ochoa
Twelve aliens arrive, one bright day, in twelve random places across Earth. No one knows why they’re here, but it must be discovered by any means necessary. This is the plot of Arrival, the latest film by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) that stars Amy Adams as a linguist who’s brought on to help American soldiers discover why aliens have arrived in Montana.
Amy Adams takes the role of Louise and elevates it to a whole new level. She loses herself completely in the workaholic young woman without turning her into a cliché, making her stand out among the cast of characters who fill more of an identity than a personality. Notable is Forest Whitaker who plays an army Colonel with a bit of humanity to him, who sadly isn’t as prominent in the second half of the film.
Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer, Bradford Young, take the camp out of the science fiction scene without becoming gritty, balancing the difficult task of drama and scientific exposition with aplomb. The film feels gorgeous and drifts into the otherworldly, which works in its favor. The haunting score by Jóhann Jóhannsson gives Arrival a distinct edge in the 2016 film season. The film feels very real, coming across as more of a drama than anything out of a pulp magazine.
The screenplay by Eric Heisserer may seem a little familiar, if you’ve seen several classic science fiction films. However, Arrival does veer off into unpredictable territory, saving itself from falling into a trap. Overall, Arrival is a very educated film, seamlessly balancing an intellectual sci-fi tale with a very personal drama hidden inside. It’s hypnotic, so in true Villeneuve style, it draws you in.