January 19, 2017


Science is giving us more and more evidence to suggest that learning a new language can rewire your brain and change the way you think. More evidence, also, to suggest that it will help to delay the onset of certain afflictions such as Alzheimer's and dementia. So is it then possible, that through new forms of language, and new ways to think, one may be able to rewire their brain to perceive time and space differently?



Arrival follows linguist Louise Banks, a university lecturer, and expert in languages, as she helps the US government decipher an alien language, that belongs to strange heptapod beings who have landed on Earth in 12 ships positioned all around the globe. Their unique way of communicating, something science can not yet explain,  has confused the world's brightest minds. It is up to Louise to unlock the secrets to their language and discover the reasons why they have to come to our planet, before world leaders decide attack is the best form of defence.


Amy Adams plays the role of Louise, and I must say I found her performance detailed and engaging. She is often someone who goes under the radar, but now has a solid body of diverse work behind her (The Fighter, Doubt, American Hustle) including two Golden Globe wins, and multiple Academy Award nominations. I suspect without her in the film, the narrative may not have worked as well with its unique construction. Not only does Adams capture the profound qualities that make her character special, she brings an extreme awareness to crafting the emotional development of the character to fit a film that does not adhere to linear concepts.


Exploring notions of time and space, and how we perceive reality is an infinite source of fun for someone like myself. Arrival managed to do this in a really original way. It was the first time in a long time that I have seen a sci-fi and thought that the 'take' of the film makers was truly new. In this instance, I could apply the theories presented to real world ideas in the present on what it might take for Humans to evolve and transcend the trappings of our 3 dimensional world in the future. Whereas something like Interstellar is a confused melting pot of ideas not clearly presented, and relies on romantic notions of the connectivity of love through time and space (I am not opposed to romantic notions either by the way), Arrival relies less on the fanciful, and more on relatable science.


If I have one criticism of the film though, it is the predictability of the government and military characters which on occasion fall into cliches that lack some imagination and invention. I did not feel specific moments involving Heads of military, or heads of intelligence organisations were written as well as the rest of the film, which moderately undermines the rest of what we see. A small criticism, but those moments did take me out of being immersed in what I was watching. My suggestion would have been to allow that information to come from elsewhere and be implied, rather than feeling the need to show us the CIA, or show us scientists from around the world. Less is more.


Really though, it's no surprise that Arrival has lasted so long at the cinema comparatively to other films. It has a fantastic cast supporting Adams - (Forest Whitaker, Jeremy Renner), and is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) who ensures that the core story is clear and meaningful. I ended up seeing this movie twice, and I definitely enjoyed it more the second time around. There is a lot of detail in the film that requires your attention a little more in depth than most films if you are to really take away everything that the film has to offer. It is not your traditional blockbuster aliens come to Earth movie, so if you like a little more depth to your science fiction, and films that construct emotional journeys like a beautiful piece of music (the sound track is fantastic), then Arrival is for you.


Rating: Supersac plus Minisac


Rod @ Lovesac