* MEviews’ Best Picture
* Best Actress ~ Amy Adams
* Best Adapted Screenplay ~ Eric Heisserer
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on the novella “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson
MEviews’ Best Picture of 2017
Best Actress ~ Amy Adams
I get it.
After a film where everything pivots upon the struggle for words and meanings, I find myself utterly at a loss for words. So, no normal review from me, no clever turns of phrase, no banter, no…
Instead, if you could place your hand on my breast or rest your head on my chest, you could feel my reaction. Because the best I can do may be only to tell you how it felt and how it remains with me.
A tightness like a band wrapped around my chest that never loosened. Beginning to end, fear — genuine fear — with instances of confidence. And dread. An unshakeable feeling of dread at seeing what is coming and knowing there is something awful coming and you can’t avoid it. Seeing that endpoint from the start only makes it harder to accept. My breath caught as every fibre inside me was stretched tight with piano wire that played the unfamiliar sounds back to me, with a warning that was, again, only a feeling. My chest hums still.
Would it make sense if you knew I drove home at midnight and the lights stretched and blurred as tears I never saw coming rolled down my cheeks? Not in the theatre. No, there, I sat stunned and it was only after starting to awaken from the fugue state I left in did the release of emotions trickle out and leak from my eyes. I saw no one and I listened to no music, unable to process the most simple words and strings that would make sense.
Because, it is not the aliens that frightened me, though they are unlike any we have seen portrayed. They are separated from us in so many ways that is impossible to connect— They are truly alien it seems. It is what separates us from knowledge and time that gripped my chest and holds it hostage still. As time holds Louise and Ian whether they realise it or not. And it holds the aliens who try to make us understand that.
Yes, Amy Adams is heartbreakingly real as the linguistic marvel. She is, perhaps, better than she ever has been. She is the pounding heart of <i>Arrival</i>. Its alpha and omega. Was she always? Or did her connection with the aliens set that in motion? Consider that and another issue that people — and I hope millions will be arguing, because it means they have had their own reaction to the film.
Some will go hoping to see monsters, and find not just the odd-looking creatures in their ships come to hover above the crowds. The unexpected and unexplainable brings out the worst in us as a species. Uncertainty makes us dangerous, but that is not news. It is the willingness to wait and believe that that willingness will be an aspect of the very beings we struggle to understand as we gaze up at those ships that may bring out the best.
And sometimes, that patience is rewarded, if not in words then in feelings. And, as I said, these words are only meant to convey feelings, and even if they fail miserably, that is the best I can do. That and the tears that trickle down even now and that you will never see.
Louise repeats something Ian said to her. You don’t need to know what. Everyone will react to it in their own way, and if sometimes we cannot agree on the question, we certainly will differ on the answer. It is enough for me that in my own depths I can say, “No, she didn’t.”
I get it.