A sci-fi film that doesn’t badger you with waves of special effects is a pleasant surprise. But that’s apparently the one-line brief director Denis Villeneuve gave himself when he set out to film a story by Ted Chiang.
The aliens have landed in twelve different parts of the world. But of course we stay with what happens in Montana and how the US saves the world.
Linguist Dr Louise Banks who is roped in by the military to help crack the language of the aliens and communicate with them lives on her own in a large and lovely water facing house. As she herself says in the film, you can be excellent at communication and still be single.
Louise’s frequently silent yet completely communicative track with her daughter Hannah right from her birth to her death, plays its part in her empathetic exchange with the aliens. Where touch, instinct, mind reading and a sense of what the future holds, matter as much as words.
The main question is, friend or foe, why have the aliens arrived here? After failing to break through in their communication, countries like China take an aggressive posture to combat the aliens. The US too gets into battle mode but good American Louise averts that global disaster.
It’s an Amy Adams show all the way and she makes communication with daughter or alien almost tangible. Jeremy Renner doesn't have much to do as the supportive physicist in a group that’s largely opposed to Louise’s humane interpretation of the alien visit. Forest Whitaker as the military man in charge is ultimately just a celebrity name in the cast.
But it is a change to have aliens that aren't here on an evil takeover trip. Layering Louise’s communications with her dead daughter and the aliens keeps it intriguing and gives it a human touch that special effects alone can’t ever pull off. The cinematography by Bradford Young is effective without intruding. And Eric Heisserer’s screenplay is tough to write but unfolds well on celluloid.
For a sci-fi film that offers a fresh human experience, Arrival gets a robust 3 Star rating.