I’m always fascinated by movies that manage to captivate me despite their slowness. Arrival is not a fast-moving sci-fi thriller, and yet it’s enormously compelling the whole way through.
Without heading into spoiler territory, Arrival focuses on an expert linguist who tries to uncover the mysteries behind a dozen alien aircrafts that land on earth. The film’s script by Eric Heisserer is less concerned with Hollywood theatrics, and more interested in a deeper more philosophical approach to these otherworldly proceedings. The fact that it manages to both entertain and make you think by the end of its running time is a true testament to just how well-crafted this story is.
It helps that director Denis Villeneuve’s film is terrifically atmospheric – Arrival is brought to life through masterful cinematography that’s claustrophobic, and yet simultaneously packed with an infinite kind of beauty. Each shot is elegantly staged, capably fueling the plot forward while never losing sight of our lead.
And what a lead she is! I’ve never been Amy Adams’s biggest fan, but her stellar performance in Arrival made me a believer. She’s not just insanely likable, she completely sells you on her character’s resourcefulness and fortitude. Most importantly, she’s the film’s beating heart, ensuring your emotional investment in her plight from the start.
Finally, the film’s score by Jóhann Jóhannsson is a towering achievement. It’s ominous and ethereal, and it elevates every single scene – particularly the final sequence which is both gut-wrenching and uplifting. If this film doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Original Score next year, it would be a truly grave oversight.
Spearheaded by Amy Adams’ astounding performance, Arrival is a haunting, sophisticated and thought-provoking sci-fi journey.