Saturday, January 28, 2017

Learn The Power of Language in Arrival

So many great movies these days, eh? I gave 5-out-of-5 ratings in my last three film reviews and now I'm about to give the fourth one to this critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film, Arrival.

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Arrival

To read the synopsis of this film and some information about it, please read my older post here. As I wrote in that post, Amy Adams leads the cast as Louise Banks, a language expert who is hired to translate the visiting aliens' language. Jeremy Renner plays Ian Donnelly, a science expert who works alongside Louise while Forest Whitaker plays a military guy who is tasked to figure out the aliens' intentions.

Like La La Land, this film's conclusion completely blows my mind. After seeing this film, I had to sit down for a long time in order to process the ending and recover from it. So this post contains spoilers because I just have to talk about the ending.

The one thing about Arrival that made me so eager to see this movie is the fact that this sci-fi film centers on a linguistics expert. I just have never seen a sci-fi movie that involves a linguistics expert. Films from this genre usually feature military guys, science experts and sometimes teenagers who are in the wrong place and the wrong time, not language experts. So I was so intrigued by the premise because I find it rare and unique. I really wanted to know how they would present a story of a language expert in a sci-fi world.

Arrival can be classified as a sci-fi movie, but if you expect to see an exhibition of CGI creatures and spaceship battles here, you will be disappointed because this film doesn't have any of that. Arrival does have aliens and spaceships, but it is the rare kind of sci-fi movies that drains not only your brain with its science elements, but also your heart with its intimate, deep story. It's kind of similar to Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.

As Amy Adams states in an interview, Arrival is basically a story of a mother who loves her daughter; a love letter from a mom to her daughter. Throughout the movie, we are made to believe that Louise is haunted by the memories of her deceased daughter, but at the end it is revealed that she doesn't know, or maybe I should say hasn't known, who that girl in her memories is. It is because the glimpses that she sees are from her future. Yes, Louise gets the ability to see her whole life, her past, present and future, because of the aliens' language that she learns during her mission. It turns out that the aliens' intention is to deliver a gift to the humans, which is their precious, unique language that gives anyone who has mastered it the ability to perceive time as something without beginnings and endings, like a loop. So, in the present time, Louise has already got the knowledge about what the aliens' purpose is, their language, how the problems that they are facing will be solved, that she and Ian will fall in love with each other, that they will have a daughter, that Ian will leave her and, the most heartbreaking one, that an incurable disease will kill her daughter at a young age. However, with all that knowledge, Louise chooses to cherish every moment in her life as if she didn't know the future. She still chooses to be with Ian and have and love her daughter with all her heart even though she knows she will lose them. This completely blows my mind and shatters my heart.

Image result for arrival movie gif

I think the revelation hits me so hard because it instantly changes the way I perceive the story, just like the language alters the way Louise sees her life. It connects every moment in the film, clears all the confusion, concludes the story beautifully and sends its deep, meaningful message right into my helpless heart. I almost can't contain the feeling that the revelation brings. Besides its greatness, it is also totally unexpected. I expected mind-boggling science theories but I get this emotional story that gives me all the feels. Films that can make you feel so much like this one are what we call art.

Some people say that a great movie is a movie that can make the audience feel related to its characters. Arrival makes me feel related to its main character, Louise Banks. Similar to Louise, language is my area as I have a degree in English literature, do translation jobs and teach English to children. I know that learning a language and teaching it to someone who is not familiar to that language at all are long processes that require patience. So I get really angry when I see how they push Louise to finish her work quickly. I can really feel her frustration in this film. I bet she is the kind of person who appreciates the process of everything, not only the final product. Louise also has scenes where she just stares at her work in front of her, thinking hard and deeply without saying a word, which looks exactly like I do right now as I am trying to find the right words to describe how I feel about this film haha. Her scenes with the aliens, Abbott and Costello, the way she takes off her suit as she says, "They need to see me," the way she touches the screen to connect with the creatures on the other side and the way she stays calm and quiet let me know that she also appreciates real interaction, intimacy and peace. Amy Adams's performance here really makes me feel close to her character. I think she deserves all the recognition she has been receiving and should be nominated for an Oscar for her role here. She has received many nominations this year but, suprisingly, is not nominated for an Oscar. Check the full list of nominees for this year's Oscars here.


Arrival might not lead the Oscars race this year, but I think it is one of the best, the most thought-provoking and mind-blowing films ever. Five stars for this movie!

Rating: 5/5


  1. "Imagine that you were on the threshold of this fairytale, sometime billions of years ago when everything was created. And you were able to choose whether you wanted to be born to a life on this planet at some point. You wouldn’t know when you were going to be born, nor how long you’d live for, but at any event it wouldn’t be more than a few years. All you’d know was that, if you chose to come into the world at some point, you’d also have to leave it again one day and go away from everything. This might cause you a good deal of grief, as lots of people think that life in the great fairytale is so wonderful that the mere thought of it ending can bring tears to their eyes. Things can be so nice here that it’s terribly painful to think that at some point the days will run out. What would you have chosen, if there had been some higher power that had gave you the choice? Perhaps we can imagine some sort of cosmic fairy in this great, strange fairytale. What you have chosen to live a life on earth at some point, whether short or long, in a hundred thousand or a hundred million years? Or would you have refused to join in the game because you didn’t like the rules? (...) I asked myself the same question maybe times during the past few weeks. Would I have elected to live a life on earth in the firm knowledge that I’d suddenly be torn away from it, and perhaps in the middle of intoxicating happiness? (...) Well, I wasn’t sure what I would have chosen. (...) If I’d chosen never to the foot inside the great fairytale, I’d never have known what I’ve lost."

    The Orange Girl (Jostein Gaarder)

    1. Ohh I just read this comment haha. It's kinda similar to what happens in the movie ya? About whether we will choose to do things or not if we know what's going to happen...