Arrival, Film Review. Picturehouse@F.A.C.T., Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker, Tzi Ma.

Life boils down to communication, the willingness to talk about even the most inconsequential moments as well as the static, the shouts of indifference and the moans of love, terror and laughter; without being able to communicate in any form, without breaking the barriers that naturally occur between us in language or in our attitudes, we do not deserve to be considered reasonable, adept or functioning members of the planet.

Communication, or its lack of, is the cornerstone, the arsenal, the weapon in the mind that can convey death or cradle the light of life’s hope in the most brilliant and convincing way. How we approach others, how we learn what they mean by listening without expecting to reply is how we are judged and it is the same for any art that tries to communicate with its audience.

There is no doubting the scope and will that is involved in Arrival, in many ways it offers a film that can hope to rival Close Encounters for its use of imagination and human intrigue, its natural curious state and yet at times the communication it offers is lost in the babble, the static that makes such a film go weak at the knees but doesn’t know how to pull itself back up again; one that unfortunately loves itself too much to ever see beyond the mirror held up by any artistic Narcissus.

It is a shame, for the film has all the elements that make it likeable, a good premise, a selection of actors who can play both baffled and winsome in equal measure, the element of surprise that the story really is based in the greatest communication possible, Love, and a lead to whom is rightly considered to be one of the naturally gifted of her time in Amy Adams; yet it is the baffle that almost kills it, it becomes too clever and whilst a good clever film is perfect to get the heart and brain pumping with animated vigour, sometimes it is a hindrance, it makes the audience begin to not care about the situation and all they end hoping for is a resolution.

If ever we meet such beings, if aliens do ever decide we as species are worthy of their time then communication is the key, yet you cannot help but feel as Voyager One spins ever further from the planet and the secrets it holds in its audio files become more corrupted and out of date that somewhere along the line we might actually insult them with such films, with such grand designs.

Arrival is a good film, a picture in which to focus on the absolute best of what humanity can offer to each of us if we could learn to truly listen without the need to answer back.

Ian D. Hall