Arrival (2016)

Back at home briefly and catching up on life. Laundry (so much of it), pre-Thanksgiving errands, chores.

Part of my week’s to do list: seeing Arrival.

I’m not here to write a review per say. Part of my desire for this blog is to share the experience of screening films. So with that in mind….

Watching this film was one of the most enjoyable and thrilling experiences I’ve had in a theater in a while. The last time I felt this way was after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) or the TIFF premiere of Gravity (2013). Arrival was a film I became totally enveloped in.

The first frames instantly reminded me of something Malick-esque. Throughout the film I felt the same chills I had when watching Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or Inception (2010) for the first time. While there are influences from other films on Arrival, this screening experience felt fresh and alive (perhaps, one part, because it is not another remake). This script is smart and thoughtful. A film about language: the depth of communicating and the true meaning of our words. With the wonderful cinematography and score, this film creates a world all its own. One you can sink into. (And oh, how I wish I could live in Dr. Banks’ house!)

And now here is your spoilers warning. If you have not seen Arrival yet, you may want to come back later.

The way this film plays with time is masterful and fun. The big moment when the story “clicks” and proves why scenes are placed where they are is a thrill. I’m ready for a second viewing to catch some of the links I missed the first time (and those I’m still thinking about today: the knocking on the window, the double meaning of the title with the telling of a birth story).

There are many things that make this film one of my favorites of the year, but one of the strongest reasons is this: it is a story from a woman’s perspective and ultimately the “weapon” could only be given to a woman. The aliens’ language is emotional. That is why it is given to Dr. Louise Banks and not Ian Donnelly (or another man). She will understand it and she will feel it. She will ensure peace. Yes, it is a generalization or stereotype on gender, but tell me how that is not a powerful statement? She’s not just “emotional”. She’s bold and clearly an intelligent leader given her career and status (for the government to come a’knockin’ in the first place). Arrival reminds us to trust and empower our female leaders. What better time to have that reminder than now.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this film and I’m eager to see it again. At the moment the only thing I can think to pair this with is a glass of red wine. Not only does Amy Adams’ character drink wine in the film, but I felt like having a glass myself after seeing Arrival. As the credits rolled, I wanted for the film to linger – like how the taste of a good wine stays on your tongue. The conversation this film created between E and I afterwards seemed to warrant a glass of something to sip, talk, and listen. If you do see it in a theater soon, I encourage you to plan a little time to think or discuss afterwards with whatever beverage you enjoy best.

Have you seen Arrival yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

And if you loved Arrival, check out my previous post on Denis Villeneuve’s short film Next Floor (2008).

arrival
Arrival (2016), Paramount Pictures
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2 thoughts on “Arrival (2016)”

  1. You nailed it. THAT MOMENT is an absolute thrill; at once an emotionally complex punch to the heart as well as an adrenaline injection into my cinematic thematic narrative-loving mind. I was really digging the movie up until that point, but I went absolutely over-the-moon at that moment, even though my excitement for the achievement was tempered by the weight of the story and what it meant for the characters. It can’t be stressed what a feat ARRIVAL pulled off.

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