“Arrival” is a science-fiction movie about an alien encounter where the heroes are a soft-spoken linguist and an awkward theoretical physicist. Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics professor who is recruited by the military to learn the alien language and be able to communicate with them to find out why they are here. This is not your typical science-fiction movie and I was pleasantly surprised by that. It also rings ever so true in the world we’re living in today where the consequences of misunderstood language can lead to very dire consequences.
This is something I have somewhat of a personal connection to. Languages are something that I’ve always had a hungry curiosity for. I grew up in a household where two languages were spoken simultaneously and where I was always told (and assured) that being able to speak more than one language would give me an advantage regardless of whatever job or career path I would take. That has since proven true, but I’m always pushing myself to learn more phrases and ways to communicate in additional languages. I’m also fascinated by the idea that being multilingual can actually result in having different personalities based on which language you speak at that time. I wonder how that would work with my family, friends, and I who jump from one language to another mid-sentence.
But I digress… again.
The movie shows that you can have a rather plain (but still compelling) character be a successful centerpiece the story. Amy Adams can beautifully pull off any role she wants and is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s most versatile actresses. With “American Hustle” co-star Jeremy Renner as the awkward physicist it shows a new and still fitting dynamic and chemistry between the two.
Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, “Arrival” bases its suspense and character development on emotion more than action. So if you’re expecting this to have a “District 9” or “Independence Day” type of shootout during the third act, this is not for you.
Nevertheless, “Arrival” is a really good film that may start off a little slow, but finishes strong with great performances throughout and a surprising twist I didn’t see coming.