Twelve alien ships come to earth and a linguistics professor, theoretical physicist, and the American military must piece together an answer to the fundamental question “Why are you here?” The answer, pieced together with much human ingenuity and great heart, will provide some other unexpected answers along the way including how “unstoppable” we humans really are.
Affecting. Thought provoking. Dignified. Mesmerizing with its simple score, smooth cinematography, and lovely locations. Simply the best movie of 2016.
Arrival asks questions and gently provides several of the important answers. Too often film has turned into a case of bemoaning present state of humanity and then ending abruptly. These two act movies, typically coming of age stories, would be better off grounded in some sort of real philosophy which, while not answering the meaning of all life, offers a suggestion by presenting the experiences of the characters to the viewer. After all, there is a conflict in every story and every conflict deserves some semblance of resolution however imperfect. Frequently this occurs by the choices the characters make.
It is clear by the last shot of Arrival that the movie was economically filmed in order to reveal to the audience a choice Dr. Banks must make. While the decision is heartbreaking, she does not waver, but embraces reality, life, and human dignity. In fact, the character of Dr. Bank does not waver throughout the movie. She carries on with her work during an alien invasion, fights for a position she knows should be hers, lends her expertise in an unrespected field to men who are pushing her for impossible answers, and allows herself to be defined by motherhood and by the love of family. We need more women like Dr. Banks.
Arrival understands human suffering. It also understands the unique dignity of every human person, how an unselfish gift is a segue to love, and how life is worth living to the fullest extent, despite its pain, since it can be lived with meaning.
PG-13 is accurate. The violence is there, but understated. A hospital deathbed scene and tension throughout.