‘Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’ but I wouldn’t read his short story until you see the film. When the movie begins, it is already established that aliens have landed on 12 different locations on planet earth. Their ships are around 1500 feet tall and look like huge black oval eggs.
Are they friendly? Why are they here? and What do they want?. So many questions, which is a very big problem since no one can figure out how to communicate with these visitors from outer space. That is, until military man Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) brings in brilliant linguist, Louise Banks (played beautifully by Amy Adams).
Louise is happy (more or less) working at a university in the Northeast, and the last thing she wants is to be whisked away by a bunch of military men and taken to one of the landing sites where the aliens have parked spaceships.
What’s so wonderful about ‘Arrival’ is that we experience the film through Louise’s character. We see flashbacks of her life with her daughter, and this gives her a lovely vulnerability and sadness. We experience her going through a mourning process at the loss of her child as she tries harder and harder to connect to the aliens. She must find a way to communicate with them before the world blows them apart. Yes folks, once again, humans want to destroy that which they do not understand.
Louise delves head-on into learning the aliens’ language. To do so, she must get face to face with them, which means boarding their ship, which is no easy task. Luckily, she has physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to help her on her journey. His approach is much different than her’s. He believes mathematics is the way to go.
One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Louise is about to meet the aliens. Amy conveys every emotion her character is going through, and in turn you go through it them with her. There are two aliens on the ship and Louise names them Abbot and Costello. Of course it takes her awhile to get used to their appearance. These guys are no E.T. They are ugly and scary-looking. Turns out Abbot and Costello are Heptapods, which means they have seven long legs like an octopus, with equally long arms that seem to have starfish attached to them.
As Louise visits with the dynamic duo from beyond our galaxy, she slowly learns their language and how to communicate with them. When she finally understands why they are here (plus a couple of other things I don’t want to mention for fear of spoiling the fun), Louise realizes that everything she believed about time is false.
“Arrival,” written by Eric Heisserer, is a emotionally moving, exciting and intense film that asks the question, “If you knew everything that was going to happen in your life, is there anything you would do differently?” You may leave the theater with questions, and even some confusion, but eventually its meaning will become clear, especially when you discuss it other members of the audience.
“Arrival” opens in theatres today, Friday, November 11 and I gave it 5 bagels out of 5. Don’t miss it.