Cine Reviews: ‘Arrival’ (2016)

Denis Villeneuve, a master of cinema of which he had proved through two intensely provocative works of art, primarily 2015’s Sicario and 2011’s Incendies, returns to the big screen with yet another philosophical venture into the complexities of humanity. Arrival is an uncompromising masterwork  that competently trumps down even the greatest of its kind – blowing your mind to bits and pieces and sending a blast that moves mountains and souls. Conducting imposing experiments on linguistics, time, and determinism, it is a brazen work of cinematic purity that puts us through a cognitive test that lauds and dissects the art of science and the human mind in order to find a solution to such an abstruse predicament. Left in the open are clues that give us room for discovery where the attractive luster that builds through the gloomy allure of the unknown merges everything complex into an investigation of its intelligence wrought in resounding beauty that bestows a gift that gives value and astonishment to the life that we live.


How time gets its role, and owns it, earns a central spot in the film as it explains just how precious and principal it is to our lives; linking it to the endless possibilities that could occur in its story through a realistic lens which effectively lets the tension run unpredictably as it gets blessed with Bradford Young’s cinematography that sucks us into its geography as does with Johann Johansson’s stentorian score that rumbles throughout. Joe Walker’s editing in particular, finds a greater significance as the vignettes of a tragic memory that haunt Amy Adams’ Louise pack a silence-shattering impact that gets spliced in between the quietest of moments – constructing a motherload of emotions that lures and mires; affirming the story’s ingrained beauty as a single haunting force that comes in close contact with our spirits. For this huge reason, the film deserves and commands to be seen more than twice – the story that it weaves would simply live on to make us look up to the art of cinema in bringing quality tales to cherish for eternity; shoving us beyond the boundaries that encourages to think in depths.


The manner of which this story is told very well instigates the mind to summon morsels of human emotion to swell to life, and breathe soothingly as you glue your eyes to the pulchritudinous photographs and commit your attention to the words that are being hushed by an amazing, genuinely molded Amy Adams. She gets placed at the film’s center point, and there, she subdues her emotions in a brilliantly transluscent performance where her soul exudes of the film’s elegance that perspicaciously thrusts intimately into the psyche. Beyond a doubt, she is one of the film’s greatest strengths, and she perfectly blends ourselves into it. She’s just as inquisitive as we are the moment we arrive, and like her character, we get rewarded with something that is just as precious and priceless as the data that she gathers.


Assessing logic is also perceived to be the key to everything, and the majority of the film carefully examines that; confining humanity in a single room where they either find out how each other’s mind works or they fail. The equivocations of humanity are largely discussed – placing man at the foreground, and developing seemingly intelligently characters that move quite the opposite to be scrutinized and observed while the extraterrestrials are set as the backdrop that constructs a laboratory which raptures about the power of language that is cunningly perceived to be both a tool and a weapon.  Ponderously elaborated are the unwanted consequences that could be bore from our very own misinterpretations the moment we let go the sheer will of identifying a message’s true meaning, and here, the concept of man’s thinking and communication is dissected, and radiates a signal prompting a human interaction to occur on such a level that would challenge us to delve into different territories of intellect all at the same time.


While known by the industry as the man who conceived exceptionally taut dramas and thrillers, VIilleneuve bears no signs of unfamiliarity, and made this provocative sensation fully composed in every aspect. Beginning from the storytelling that stretches far and wide up to the filmmaking as a whole, he makes it exactly what it is and should be; an instant classic that is lovingly tangled in intricacies and marked with timelessness. Stern and grim landscapes are where we are kept in, and instantaneously, our minds get stuck in the same environment that our characters walk on and endeavor in every second that wastes no time in making an impression that dwells deep in the memory.  The cinematic exhibition of its premise, the execution of its concept and the thought of making a film as unfathomably prepossessing as it could get, quenches the interest and intrigue in oneself that continually rages on as the mystery builds and eventually gains a momentum that even passes past its peak.


Again, one of modern cinema’s most intrepid filmmakers certainly doesn’t let us down when it comes to making us think and absorb just how marvelous his works are. Commencing an interaction, that seamlessly tethers its brain to ours, which puts us in every mood imaginable, Denis Villeneuve, again, validates that he is at the top of his game and is making it his own as he attempts to experiment with the sci-fi genre using his own theatrics, and exceeds the boundaries as the product reinforces his ever-impeccable, brazen bravado in filmmaking. Amalgamating Kubrick’s 2001 and Nolan’s Interstellar, it forms a fresh blend of genre purity which relishes the unthinkable theories that it has to divulge – giving sci-fi purists and cinema enthusiasts their money’s worth and so much more through screenwriter Eric Heisserer’s overflowing genius that compels and registers at an immersive, brisk rate using the same elements that we’ve encountered in the director’s prior works which technically puts this very film in the same line, and fits in like a brainchild that feels very much like the director’s own.


Arrival is one of the most awe-inspiring sci-fi pics in recent memory that will forever endure in the minds of its viewers not only for its possession of a human quality that ascends every second to golden status from the sheer mastery of direction, but also for its writing that majestically inculcates when fully digested – gifting us with a ton to admire about the nature of science, and the art of erudition that stems from its complications. It is not as alienating as you’d expect, but it doesn’t stay in its comfort zone either as it unloads an artistic and thematically exploratory caliber where its innate beauty that grows to unravel at every turn instantaneously allows to claim itself as one of the the best that its generation has to tout. Its ambition is also poetically mind-blowing and captivates the spirit largely – instituting a very involving human interaction that converges for many to imbibe its knowledge that bleeds which as a whole, reads like a thick, sensuously incendiary book where astonishing curiosities are to be bared in a science fiction tale that is just indescribably over and above. You’ll simply feel more human than ever during and after the second you get lost in its transcendental waves that will leave you into a state which will stun you for days. It’s too awake a film, too sentient an experience that you could virtually hear it breathe, and feel it serenely caressing your heart and mind.



Arrival is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Columbia Pictures Philippines. Rated PG by the MTRCB.



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