Where to begin a story which has no beginnings, or an end?
An arrival is often followed with a marker for when, but here it is why. Under the hands of a director comfortable with blockbuster cinema, Arrival has the maximum potential; 12 alien ships arrive on earth, no one knows why; except of course America. Yes, this too is an ‘America-saves-humanity’ movie. Only that it was directed by Denis Villeneuve.
And it is bound to frustrate those seeking blockbuster entertainment, because of the very visible slowness, take for example the usual money shot of earth realizing that it has guests, showed here simply by Amy Adams(she is simply brilliant here!) walking away from a group of students crowding around the television. Absolutely no hurry, even when there enough opportunity to create tension, something like a Dr. Strangelove kind of situation; Villeneuve refrains.
Arrival is adapted from a short story titled ‘Story of Your Life’, not Armageddon or Apocalypse, this is one of the most personal films I have seen and maybe the slowness is to make us understand there is no concept of time; where there is no such concept of time; slow and fast are deprived of their meanings. Even beginnings and endings are just empty words.
Arrival is about being alone and being together, about being human and alien, about the teacher and the taught and about the nature of knowledge itself, and how we are all going about in circles, literally. Denis covers all this and without hurry and completely removing drama, treating aliens and humans with respect, the movie is neither dark nor filled with popcorn aggression (again much scope for this is there when a world prepares for war), nor does it squeeze the aliens into blobs of horror or sentiment.
Arrival is perhaps the most tranquil of alien invasions.