Arrival’s blurb says this film is about “A linguist (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications”. Okay, so just another take on aliens invading Earth, right? Wrong. Man’s interaction with the aliens is simply the vehicle to a much deeper story in this film. It’s a story about human love and suffering and knowing the future. Would we still choose a future we knew contained both love and suffering, is the question this beautiful, multi-layered movie poses.
Amy Adams plays Dr Louise Banks who is hastily picked up by helicopter from outside her home and taken to the site of an alien arrival. On the way she meets the rest of the team. Among them is scientist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who brings his mathematical skills to the project. Banks is deployed as a linguist and together the pair meets face to face with the aliens. Named heptapods (they look like giant ten-legged spiders) by the specialists, the aliens communicate by squirting ink into strange patterns. Banks and Donnelly slowly begin to work out the aliens’ language and, in a race against other nations who are only too keen to obliterate the invaders, they eventually uncover the aliens’ reasons for coming to Earth.
As Banks participates in the work she has regular “visions” which tell us, the viewers, about her personal life. She lives alone and has endured the unimaginable suffering of losing a child. Somehow the visions and the alien interaction begin to merge revealing issues that relate to time travel and even quantum physics.
Arrival is a film with depth and it tells its story with delicacy and a melodic beauty. I highly recommend it.
Arrival opens at Ster Kinekor theatres in South Africa on 11 November 2016.