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Arrival Movie Review (2016) | Denis Villeneuve Helms a Masterpiece

Wonderstruck! Dumbfounded! Arrival movie confounds you as it crushes dams of conventions. It is the arrival of a change, a different outlook at the word ‘alien’. So many movies we have seen hitherto, all showing aliens in an ugly limelight, branding them destroyers, marauders or invaders. It used to paint the same old picture with its destructive cliches.

Arrival movie changes everything. Your perception about strangers in our land. It stresses on the fact they could be here for a reason other than war. The movie unfolds gorgeously from a stupefying elusive pickle into a mind-boggling explosive revelation. That’s the entire driving force on which Arrival runs.

Direction of Arrival Movie

Denis Villeneuve stays highly revered in my head owing to all the uncanny topics he picks. He isn’t afraid to experiment, takes bold awe-inspiring risks and literally fuels avant-garde cinema. His direction abounds with intelligence that nips at our traditions of perceiving movies. He challenges us to think, knocking us out of our comfort zone. It’s ballsy, different and simply remarkable. Something we don’t see everyday in cinema today. Primarily because such films vexes many, and then all the movies end up becoming nothing but moderate crowd-pleasers. But this man right here, never ceases to take risks.

still of Amy Adams as Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly in Arrival movie

In particular I love how Denis Villeneuve imparts tranquil focus to his frames. Everything happens for a reason. It merges and overlaps with wistful thinking and asks of you to do the same. In those momentary transitions you are forced to hear your thoughts, you think of the possibilities and given his reputation try to envision the figurative side of the story.

Plot of the Arrival Movie (Minor Spoilers Ahead)

Created on a story by Ted Chiang titled ‘Story of Your Life‘ the movie runs beautifully making up stunning placid frames for its plot. To understand the movie truly you must get this first: There is no definite order! It is a ragbag of tenses. And Denis, the genius he is, intermingles them often supersedes them brilliantly amongst each other. The main theme goes like this:

Louise Banks is an insanely gifted linguist who is sought after by a US Army Colonel to communicate with alien spaceships that have landed on Earth. She meets physicist Ian Donnelly who has also been hired to accompany her for the job.

still of alien letters and symbols from Arrival movie

I loved how Denis decided to show repercussions of alien arrival. Betwixt his poised frames we get to see our world flame up in chaos, even though all alien ships did was stand still on our ground. The contextual insinuations that human mind read are beyond our grasp. It goes on to show how humans are akin bubbles waiting to explode with a mere instigation without comprehending the what, the why and the how of a situation.

What then follows is constant prodding in order to understand the language of the aliens to figure out their true purpose of visit. The final revelation is so huge (and yes it has time theory entailed) that I have decided to pen a separate article to expound it better. But really, you need to watch it to experience that climactic relentless pile driver yourself.

You can pre-order Arrival movie here:


Music and Screenplay

The music of Arrival has been given by none other than 2 times Oscar nominee Johann Johannsson himself.  It is beautifully done, you have to live it to truly experience it. It being an art movie, limited words get spoken. But those that are there try to expand how huge the subject of language is. Also, there are pretty cool one-liners that don’t fail to titillate your ears every now and then. Like when Ian Donnelly confesses:

You know I’ve had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember. You know what surprised me the most? It wasn’t meeting them. It was meeting you.

What also constantly elevates the movie is an artful performance by Amy Adams. Being the lead protagonist, the driving force, the film basically revolves all around her. If it weren’t for her, things would have been really different. A nod to the movie casting there! Great Job.

The Final Verdict

Arrival is not for everybody. I learnt this the hard way as I was compelled to hear two of my friends, who accompanied me to watch the movie, snore profusely throughout the movie. It was ‘their’ loss of course. Because it was only by the time we reach the end that we get to learn the colossal secret. It wraps up beautifully around the concept that eludes us throughout. It almost brings back memories from Christopher Nolan‘s magnum opus Interstellar movie.

Read Interstellar movie review.

You know what else really makes me happy? It is the director’s next colossal project. It is none other than Denis Vileneuve himself who helms the Blade Runner sequel with Jared Leto and Harrison Ford in the vanguard. Can’t wait for that one as well.

You can check out the trailer of Arrival movie here:

Sicario Review (2015)

“It is a land of wolves now.”

The aforementioned escapes the roaring gasps of Benicio Del Toro as he slips in an advice to Emily Blunt. Sicario is a thrilling ride into the US-Mexican ongoing drug war, where the story takes you into the deep waters of perversion, vengeance and corruption. Mexico reeks of death. The drug has polluted its air.

Denis Villeneuve has a knack for helming beauties. Sicario is yet another product of his extraordinary brain. What I love most about Denis’ direction is the fact that his frames carry the perfect amount of profundity. They are thought provoking, and give you ample amount of time to feel the thrill. You are able to focus properly and contemplate between his lingering frames.

Brilliant top scenic views that blend in with the gorgeous Johann Johannson music, deafening helicopter shots, or the silhouette of the private jet over a barren land depicting the long exhausting travel, carry Denis’ suggestive flair.

The acting department is literally thriving with exceptional performances by the movie’s stellar cast. The screenplay too is very well written, taking the crime genre into account.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

One of the most gorgeous bits of the movie is when Emily Blunt is shown “the fireworks” – a city breathing on tragedy, bleeding with death, and burning in fire. The unfolding of the main Sicario was one helluva twist to the tale that was written beautifully by Taylor Sheridan.

Another thing that I loved was Hernandez’s character Silvio. A dispensable soul who was manifested subtly by Denis. Like any other Mexican, he was a guy with fingers in dirt. Oblivious to what was coming, with a prepared family. Denis shows such a way of living is common in Mexico. How they have accepted death as a way of life!

The movie ends quite dramatically as it leaves Kate Macer with a choice, the choice to shoot a Sicario like Alejandro and do the right thing, or let him breathe and let the city smother itself in the flames of vengeance. As the final bits rush in showing the Silvio’s death aftermath, we see his son trying to play football, his mother trying to cheer him when we hear bullets in the backdrop. Their world stops to heed at the distraction, but then again, they have accepted it to be a part of living, and they still continue. It is an extremely poetic bit that makes you pity their lives.