Continuing Oscar Watch I saw Arrival at the weekend.
I missed it on the regular cinemas when it came out and was lucky The Regal had a screening for me to attend.
I didn't have a lot of expectations going in. I knew it was Sci-Fi/alien invasion and I knew it was Amy Adams. So that was enough for me.
A colleague who is also a film buff had said it was his film of the year. Mine was La La Land and nothing could top that so didn't give much thought to his comments.
You can't really compare Arrival and La La Land but oh boy Arrival is very very good.
It had such an effect on me I'm still thinking about it days later. It was one of the most profound and moving films I've seen in a long time.
And here's the thing...it's really hard to write about this film without giving too much away.
And I don't want to give too much away.
The film commences with a series of events in the life of Louise Banks (Amy Adams).
You then see her as a linguistics professor at a college on the day of the arrival. Her class is disrupted by the event.
The event is the arrival of 12 monolithic space ships in 12 different countries over the world.
She is soon contacted by authorities to help make sense of what the aliens are trying to communicate. You hear their 'voice' on a recording. She says she won't work with a recording but in person, and after some back and forth she arrives at the closest base camp to one of the ships.
This film is so intricately and beautifully directed by Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Sicario). It's a pure piece of art. Sleek, astonishing sound, amazing cinematography.
And the pace is perfect. There is no disappointing early reveals of aliens etc.
You get to see the ship when Amy does and you get to see the alien (well sort of) when Amy does.
The ship is a gigantic oval monolith hovering just above the earth. Every so often it opens underneath to let the teams in to meet with the aliens.
It's atmospheric inside and they take a bird in a cage to gauge the atmosphere.
The alien reveal is perfect, not too soon and not too late and initially part thereof. But with each meeting you see more and more of the aliens.
And this is where the film turns regular scifi on its head and where I'll be a little vague.
Cause you really have to/want to see this!!!
The story takes you to heights this kind of story rarely takes you. There is a lot of confusion interpreting the aliens, but not from Amy. She's solid and steadfastly true to these beasts as she begins to understand their mission.
Their mission is stunning and powerful and utterly heart wrenching. I was so moved by this section of the film I was in tears until it's end.
There are layers of clever revealed at this time that I also won't go into.
Don't try and overthink this film, it is very simple to follow on a basic level.
There are thing that will blow or bend your mind. And you'll be thinking for a long time about that. I still am. These are the clever layers and that's great. But ultimately this is a simple premise.
Adams is well supported by Jeremy Renner and Forest Whittaker. But this is her show. She subtly and beautifully owns the film and was robbed of a best actress nomination.
Arrival won't win a lot of Oscars and that's a crying shame. The academy doesn't seem to do scifi. It may win some sound and special effects awards.
It's a film that is political and very much of our time. The unnecessary hostility with such some of us treat others different to us is it's theme. And it's clever and has heart.
This is a film that can safely lie with 2001 and Close encounters.