I have had three drafts of a review for Arrival. WordPress ate one and I deleted the other two. One was moony and fawning, the other was overly florid, pretentious swill.
I’m a writer, a book lover. I’m terrible at languages other than English, but I know a smattering of a few Romance languages and a few more complicated, like Finnish or Gaelic. Enough to fuck up the grammar if I put them in a book. Or use a word out of context or inaccurately. So after Arrival, I found myself looking up linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity. After Arrival, I felt like I had been looking at the world through a pinhole.
I don’t always feel the need to be a critic. I love peer review, beta reading and editing, but reviewing a final work always seems disingenuous. I have to separate my Feeling and instead qualify and quantify.
Holy shit, I fucking loved Arrival. It was beautiful and poetic, well filmed and well paced. There were no dramatic scenes of military might repelling hostile invaders. No dramatic presidential speeches. What there was in plenty were questions, morals, ethics and a whole lot of science. There were some cool aliens and some very nice visuals.
Arrival is a film about love, language, the nature of humanity and how we perceive the world. It is almost an infinite loop. There ought to be more films that are unafraid to be intelligent and to ask questions of the viewer rather than answer them.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the film is based off “Story of your Life,” a short story by Ted Chiang. The story is very well written and worth the read. Go do that thing…