Arrival is not your typical sci fi film there is very little action, no big aliens vs humans showdown and it is infuriatingly slow paced at times. I held off watching this film for a while certain that despite the clever idea it would at some point revert to stereotype, but I was wrong. Whilst you still have the glimpses of a world in chaos and a war brewing the film prefers to focus on Amy Adams personal response. The first glimpse of the aliens and the unfolding consequences to their arrival are all seen through her reactions with a lot of lingering close ups. The tension builds so slowly until you are on the edge of your seat and then a serious twist sends you reeling and suddenly everything falls into place. (Seriously the twist is epic!)
Our protagonist is no soldier, quiet, calm, scared yet determined she takes her time to properly communicate with the aliens and form an alliance of sorts instead of merely rushing in and declaring war. And it’s a fascinating perspective. Showing us that openness, a willing to understand and above all communication is the real difference between war and peace. The tension is at the end resolved by one person reaching out and saying the right words in one 20 second phone call.
Arrival is at the end of a day a love story. It is someone choosing acceptance and friendship over war and enemies and above all it is someone saying yes to love even though they know what lies ahead. That is what makes this film so beautiful for me.