With all the recent hubbub surrounding Birth of a Nation, the mounting Oscar chances for late-year prestige pictures, and a handful of possible blockbusters left on the schedule, 2016’s film conversation has shifted away from a project that ought to be far higher up on everyone’s watchlist.
I’m referring to Arrival, a sophisticated sci-fi picture making contact with Earth theaters on November 11. To recap: directed by Denis Villeneuve, who wowed audiences last year with his blistering Sicario. Starring perennial great Amy Adams as an expert linguist tasked with deciphering the inscrutable communiques that alien invaders have sent to exploratory teams of Earthlings. Eric Heisserer’s screenplay, adapted from Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” engages with themes of memory, language, being, and pretty much everything short of the meaning of life. And the topper — I was fortunate enough to catch the premiere in Toronto last month, and it was profound and moving.
The towering shell-shaped spacecrafts that appear in random spots all over the globe send American governmental officials into a major tizzy, and top brass Michael Stuhlbarg demands some results from Adams and her team (including Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker) on the double. But singlehandedly piecing together meaning from a bunch of splotchy ink circles proves a more difficult task than one might think. To understand who these visitors are, and more importantly, what they want, Adams will have to open her mind and see as they see.
Arrival arrives November 11, don’t forget it. This one’s not to be missed.