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Review: Arrival (TIFF 2016)

Arrival (TIFF 2016)
09.12.2016
9 10

PLOT: After mysterious alien ships appear around the globe, a linguist (Amy Adams) is recruited by an army colonel (Forest Whitaker) in order to help communicate with the visitors and learn their intentions.

REVIEW: ARRIVAL is a major departure for director Denis Villeneuve. While already regarded as one of the great current directors thanks to his masterful recent efforts like INCENDIES, PRISONERS and SICARIO, those could all be termed merciless, pessimistic takes on the very worst aspects of human nature. By contrast, ARRIVAL shows humanity at its very best, with most of the characters here optimistic about humanity’s first contact with aliens. Even Forest Whitaker’s hard-nosed colonel is more than willing to give Amy Adams’s academic and Jeremy Renner’s theoretical physicist as much leeway as they need in order to keep the lines of communication open and hopeful. Yes, there is some pessimism in the form of Michael Stuhlbarg’s CIA agent and quick glimpses at a different climate in China and among the general populace, but there’s no trigger-happy baddie, with conflict being confined to only a very small part of the film.

As such, this is no alien-invasion thriller, but rather a thoughtful look at first contact that has more in common with CONTACT than ID4. Working from an extremely sophisticated screenplay by Eric Heisserer, ARRIVAL refuses to talk down to its audience, taking for granted their ability to keep up. This is the correct approach, as it winds up feeling like one of the more intelligent, adult-driven science-fiction films in recent memory.

It’s grounded by Amy Adams’s leading role, that’s among the best showcases she’s ever had. Too often stuck in supporting roles, Adams is the whole show here. Potentially Oscar-worthy, it’s a difficult part with her having to simultaneously convey the character’s academic nature as well as her very human fear of what turns out to be towering, Octopus-like beings that communicate in tones that are so traumatic they can kill. She’s also shown to be reeling from the loss of her young daughter to a rare disease, with much of the film cutting back and forth to her experience of motherhood and how, in a way, teaching her own child language isn’t all that different from what her job is with the aliens.

By contrast, Renner has a somewhat lighter part, being the one who’s able to give the film some comedic relief now and then, dubbing the two alien communicators “Abbott & Costello”, and having a nice easy-going rapport with Adams, his former AMERICAN HUSTLE co-star. Whitaker also hits some unexpected notes in what would normally be the tough-guy military part, giving the character a real sense of wanting to do right by humanity and being reluctant to make any destructive knee-jerk decisions.

Notably, ARRIVAL marks a visual departure from Villeneuve’s recent films, with rising indie DP Bradford Young taking over from Roger Deakins, giving this a more stripped-down but just as effective look. While essentially a sci-fi outing, the CGI is mostly minimalist, while Johann Johannsson’s score is, appropriately, more driven by emotion than spectacle - just like the film.

It all comes together remarkably well, with Villeneuve proving himself to be very adept at telling a more hopeful story, while still giving it his own distinctive stamp (emphasizing realism over wonder). ARRIVAL is another outing that will further his reputation as one of our great directors, which bodes well for his upcoming BLADE RUNNER sequel. This is thoughtful, beautifully crafted, spectacularly acted sci-fi that treats the genre seriously and will no doubt be warmly received by just about everyone and is undoubtedly a must-see.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: The original title, "Story of Your Life" would have been more appropriate.
Source: JoBlo.com

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11:22AM on 01/16/2017
Beautiful movie, holy shit! When I realized what was happening I was left breathless.
Beautiful movie, holy shit! When I realized what was happening I was left breathless.
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+1
9:48PM on 09/12/2016

Outstanding!

Ever since I saw the first trailer I thought this might be the encounter film I've been hoping to see since Contact (maybe a little better, since that resorted to the goofy dream-dad conversation). Great to hear that it's as good as the trailer indicated. Definitely will be seeing this opening weekend.
Ever since I saw the first trailer I thought this might be the encounter film I've been hoping to see since Contact (maybe a little better, since that resorted to the goofy dream-dad conversation). Great to hear that it's as good as the trailer indicated. Definitely will be seeing this opening weekend.
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+2
6:56PM on 09/12/2016

Thanks for spoiling what the aliens look like asshole

How about a spoiler alert next time! The trailers managed to keep things mysterious....oh but not a JoBlo "writer." Chris Bumbray, quit your fucking job, inconsiderate fuck.
How about a spoiler alert next time! The trailers managed to keep things mysterious....oh but not a JoBlo "writer." Chris Bumbray, quit your fucking job, inconsiderate fuck.
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8:49PM on 09/12/2016
Check the rules and guidelines. I understand you're angry about having a movie spoiled, but there is an expectation of no writer abuse. If you don't like the writers, go somewhere else, but be more respectful. Express you disappointment or frustration without resorting to name-calling.
Check the rules and guidelines. I understand you're angry about having a movie spoiled, but there is an expectation of no writer abuse. If you don't like the writers, go somewhere else, but be more respectful. Express you disappointment or frustration without resorting to name-calling.
3:31PM on 09/13/2016
Uh, seen the trailer??
If I were to describe those silhouettes you can see behind that milky screen i would say they look like tall (or maybe towering) squid like tentacle beings. So where is the spoiler here? Maybe first watch and think before going on a temper tantrum you immature child
Uh, seen the trailer??
If I were to describe those silhouettes you can see behind that milky screen i would say they look like tall (or maybe towering) squid like tentacle beings. So where is the spoiler here? Maybe first watch and think before going on a temper tantrum you immature child
+1
3:53PM on 09/12/2016
Denis has become my favorite director on the scene and the 9 is all I needed to read . I was going to see it regardless but I want to go into with as little information as possible.
Denis has become my favorite director on the scene and the 9 is all I needed to read . I was going to see it regardless but I want to go into with as little information as possible.
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3:08PM on 09/12/2016
Great! I wanted thisto be good!
Great! I wanted thisto be good!
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2:30PM on 09/12/2016
let's see if Villeneuve does 100% of great movies with this one...
let's see if Villeneuve does 100% of great movies with this one...
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11:33AM on 09/12/2016
So glad to hear this is a great film!
So glad to hear this is a great film!
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10:41AM on 09/12/2016
REALLY looking forward to this one. Villeneuve is one of the best directors working today and I can't wait to see how well he handles sci-fi on a scope this grand while also having a realistic vibe and tone to it as well. Glad to read it's one of the smarter alien encounters films to come out as of late since they are far few in between.
REALLY looking forward to this one. Villeneuve is one of the best directors working today and I can't wait to see how well he handles sci-fi on a scope this grand while also having a realistic vibe and tone to it as well. Glad to read it's one of the smarter alien encounters films to come out as of late since they are far few in between.
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