Wednesday, 16 November 2016

REVIEW - ARRIVAL (DENIS VILLENEUVE)


The first essential step toward enjoying science-fiction filmmaking is to give in to it. Allow yourself the opportunity to wilfully submit to fantasy, to suspend that cynicism to which we cautious creatures cling on; remember that, no matter how closely the film comes to representing that reality you recognize so clearly, it's all magic and make-believe, playing its own game by its own rules. Even with its muted colour palette, its focus on people and politics, its lack of elaborate special effects, Arrival remains a sci-fi feature to its core - indeed, arguably archetypal sci-fi, in that its premise plays upon that cornerstone of the genre, the alien invasion film. That Eric Heisserer's adaptation of Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life hews rather closely, in fact, to the rules of our reality is only a supplementary, and valuable, attribute. This is our world, these are our stories (now more than ever), yet Arrival is a most fanciful flight from concept to conclusion. Give in to it, and allow Denis Villeneuve to guide you through a story that's free from all cynical concerns in its enrapturing embrace of style, emotion and narrative innovation. The view from afar is, fittingly, much less enlightening, much less forgiving than the subjective, close-up experience, and so Arrival sucks you ever inward, with Amy Adams' hugely expressive turn at its centre. This is a lived-in fantasy, then, and the brave step forward - or is it upward? - is just the first one toward appreciating an altogether magnificent work of pure creation. The reality that we perceive is welded inextricably to the fantasy that we conceive. It is only upon learning of Arrival's many wonders that one's mind may know its secrets. Take that first step, and see it!