By Gerald McCusker

 
Arrival (12A) ★★★★
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

What’s the story?

LIVING a rather secluded and lonely life, Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is surrounded by nothing but memories from her past. By day, she teaches languages and linguistics at a local university, but when it’s time to go home, she’s haunted by visions of a lost daughter and a family that was never to be.

But one event is about to change the course of not only Louise’s life, but every single person on the planet.

When twelve huge black floating monoliths descend from the stars and land at different locations across the planet, mankind is awoken to the realisation that we are not alone in the universe. It’s not long before the US Army’s Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) comes knocking on Louise’s door.

The government need an expert in languages to help make first contact with the alien visitors and, teaming the tutor with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise sets out to decipher the secret to the aliens’ strange language to find out why they are here and what they want.

Any good?

THE science-fiction genre seems to be going through a bit of a golden age at the moment. We’ve been treated to first-class, award-worthy epics like Gravity and The Martian in recent years and Arrival most definitely stands alongside these two impressive, modern masterpieces.

Wonders

This is the thinking man and woman’s sci-fi flick – there’s no mass destruction, no monuments reduced to rubble or dogfights with alien spacecraft, instead Arrival is an altogether more sensitive and thoughtful affair that tries to make sense of the wonders of life and the universe, through the broken life of Amy Adams’ Dr Louise Banks.

It’s emotionally gratifying, engaging and completely compelling.

Part of this is down to Adams’ masterfully controlled performance – she’s brilliant throughout as the lost soul searching for meaning and redemption amongst the complicated alien puzzles and language.

Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve takes his time and slowly builds up the apprehension, emotion and tension as proceedings simmer to a satisfying climax.

Existence

There’s nothing flashy or gaudy about Villeneuve’s vision here, he’s focused on the heart-breaking complexity of human existence and, as well as gripping, Arrival is a hugely rewarding experience.

The excellent Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker add quality to the proceedings in their own unique ways, but this is very much Amy Adams’ show, and she steals it from the get-go.
 

Final word?

A thoughtful, beautiful, masterful sci-fi masterpiece, Arrival is a must-see flick.

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