FEBRUARY 17 — If you missed the movie Arrival in the cinemas, that may not be a bad thing. It does not have to be watched on the big screen.
In fact, I would say it is better viewed on DVD. Yes, in the cinema you have some noticeable (though not quite spectacular) visuals of the alien space crafts but really, not much else.
However, on DVD, you can pause and return to the dialogue and believe me, to truly enjoy this film, you may have to do that several times.
The DVD is also likely to have interviews with the director as well as his commentaries which I think is especially valuable for movies like these.
Arrival is about yet another alien encounter. However, the central focus here is the effort on both the parts of the aliens and the earthlings to establish communications.
There is no C3P0 from Star Wars to help bridge the communication gap. Rather the two species have to find a way of interfacing without any communication precedent. This is not an easy task since the alien species communicates by shooting ink jets which manifest as circles with tendrils!
Twelve alien crafts land on Earth and each nation on which this happens has to deal with the situation in their own way. With the paranoia caused by the lack of communication, military action becomes almost inevitable. And this is what our heroine, Dr Louise Banks, wants to avoid.
In the UK, Arrival did not set the box office on fire. When the film’s trailer was shown, the word was that it was a cerebral film and so it came and went rather quietly.
Indeed, I missed it at my local cinema because it only played for a week or so. However, it deservingly received nominations for a few Oscars including best picture, director and cinematography and that seemed to revive interest in the film. I finally caught it when it had a second run in my local cinema.
Amy Adams is the lead actor in this film and I honestly cannot think of a better choice. I have been following her career since her guest role in The Office. Her breakthrough role for me was Julie and Julia back in 2009, which I thoroughly enjoyed possibly due to it being food related!
Although she was in a few good movies like American Hustle and Her, she did not make an impact again till last year when she was in Nocturnal Animals, a film I was thoroughly taken by.
Her emotional cadences in that film were exquisite and I saw the same quality of performance in Arrival. She plays the heroine, a linguistics professor, Dr Louise Banks
As the heroine is a linguist, it should come as no surprise that this area is where the philosophy element comes in.
What exactly makes a language? We tend to communicate using our physical capacities (humans speak and write, aliens shoot ink jets!) but ultimately, what brings us understanding is how we act when we perform the act of communication.
The heroine even has a hilarious anecdote for this which I will not spoil for you. Suffice it to say it involves kangaroos!
For films which involve an intertwining of philosophy and action, it is not easy to balance the two and keep the audience interested.
Too much philosophy and people fall asleep and too little, people forget the point. The director, Denis Villeneuve, who has the very violent and depressing Sicario under his belt, pulled this off pretty wel.
I highly recommend watching this film at home for these reasons.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.