Arrival, Monument of Science Fiction!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to win a little film critic writing contest for a magazine. You had to write about what you considered to be the best film of the decade 2010-2020. The winners were published in a booklet and on the publication’s website a few days later in the form of a top 10 films to watch for containment.
I thought it might interest you even if the tone is … a little different from what I used to write!
^^ ’
I translated it and voila!

Good reading!


The wonderful thing about genre cinema is that it is infinitely renewed. Because if you tell the synopsis of “Arrival”, a priori, you will have the impression of having already seen this film a thousand times.

“Extraterrestrials arrive on earth but we don’t know what their intentions are… blah blah…”

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Contact”, “2001: a space odyssey”…
Yet “Arrival” is a film that was a breath of fresh air for me. An intimate film, with a mesmerizing staging that offers us a grand fable on inter-species communication and I would even say communion, and I am not talking about communion in the religious sense. “Arrival” is a film with a universal, timeless message that falls in almost none of the clichés associated with films of extraterrestrial invasions. And it’s rare enough to be highlighted. I say it right away, it was for me the best film of its last 10 years..

The story:

Overnight, mysterious extraterrestrial entities appear on Earth. For the moment, no sign of hostility in sight. Affine to decrypt the language of extraterrestrials to say the least enigmatic, The army calls on a linguist, played by Amie Adams who will try somehow to communicate with her beings of which everything remains to be discovered.

Even if Denis Villeneuve has already accustomed us to obscure films open to interpretation, “Arrival” is not a film which knocks you out with mathematical formulas or theories of quantum physics, as if to prove to you that it is a mature film, which must be taken seriously. Symbolism quickly takes over and the images speak for themselves.
This film is poetry.
Villeneuve purifies his staging to keep only the essentials, only what serves his purpose. Halfway between a blockbuster and an experimental film, “Arrival” enjoys an atmosphere that oscillates between light and shade. And you feel that disturbing strangeness from the first minutes, which makes it impossible to look away from the screen. I don’t think I have seen such an intoxicating film since Melancholia by Lars von Trier.

I do not intend to make a surgical analysis of this film, which as you can imagine raises a lot of subjects on different themes. I’ll only talk to you about what touched me personally. And it is so rare to have the impression that a film is addressed to us directly.

Because yes the aliens of “Arrival” speak to us, but what are their intentions?
Why are they there?

If the film takes its full interest when scientists enter the alien spacecraft, it is through the prism of the staging. In the era of triumphant digital, I think we all agree that even Hollywood studios have little to sell us when it comes to digital creatures, and it’s certainly not with glasses 3d that things will get better.
From “Jurassic Park” to “Avatar” or “Terminator 2”, our references are saturated with monsters always more detailed, imposing, always closer to the screen. And if there is one thing that forces my admiration for Denis Villeneuve, it is this knowledge of cinema, that which suggests more than it shows, in order to let our imagination fill the gaps, to keep us captive of its history. “Arrival” is Science Fiction in the noblest sense of the word.


Without speaking about the work on the architecture which is just breathtaking, the artistic direction of this film is in perfect adequacy with its story, and the arrival of its beings appears to each of us in a different way.
A spider, an octopus or simply a hand, a member, or simply an ink stain on a screen, the design of its creatures, rests only on abstract forms. This is a great idea that we owe to Denis Villeneuve. As Rorschach tests, it is up to you to decide what you see.


And there is a fine line between what can seem dangerous to you and what you think is very watchful. Everything is ambiguous in this film, until the end you never know how to interpret the actions of your creatures, and in my opinion, that is the main subject of this film.
We humans, the dominant species on this planet, we have created empires, civilizations. Master of a technology that is overtaking us, we even walked on the Moon! However, today we are still unable to talk to each other, knowing how to approach each other without going through a balance of power.
The character of Louise, will not simply communicate with her aliens, she will transcend her human condition to enter into symbiosis with them.
If this film speaks to us well about contact, He does it in the most natural way possible. And this contact, it goes above all through trust.
For me the key scene of this film is when Louise decides to take off her jumpsuit in order to show herself to the aliens. If a person is to represent humanity, then above all, he should not be governed by fear.

“Arrival” is a great film about language, both inside and outside of fiction. Like Louise, who never ceases to want to decode the meaning of these “hieroglyphs”, we spectators are also invited to decode each shot. If this film is not very talkative, all the iconic plans, push us to multiply our grids of readings, until the very arrival of the extraterrestrial vessels.
If we compare them to the aliens of “Independence Day”, aggressive invaders whose arrival on Earth, literally hides the sun, the aliens of “Arrival” opt for them in a vertical position and above all motionless, silent. They respect our living space. By levitating above the ground, high enough to not crush anything and just ready enough for us to enter.
Besides, we can see that the director is Canadian, because even if it can be fun from time to time with directors on the other side of the border, when there is something unidentified in the Heaven immediately war.

Gods, it’s nice to see a filmmaker shift even the code of science fiction cinema to present us with such an ambitious film. Because yes, “Arrival” is one of the most ambitious films of its last years. We are talking about a film that shows us that we can:

Open time!

So scertainly, we have already seen humans enter into psyche with entities with higher intelligence, to build but in hand a better world. But, if this film is inspired by a large number of references already cult for the most part, it sublimates them.
For example as a fan of “2001: a space odyssey”, I simply loved this scene where Louise explains to the army chief, the semantic ambiguity between the weapon and the tool.

Louise Banks: If all I ever gave you was a hammer …
Colonel Weber: Everything’s a nail …

What is “Arrival” for me:

“Arrival” is not a film that gets lost on the way. It’s not a film that starts off on a high note and doesn’t really know how to end.
It’s a film that arrives at just the right time in a particularly turbulent period in our history when humanity is taking a collective awareness that it is time to question our whole way of life.
In the genre of extraterrestrial invasion, “Arrival” represents the film of maturity.


If I had to compare it to another science fiction film, I would take “Contact” by Robert Zemeckis in 1997. Without too much spoiler, we see a young female scientist tempted to decrypt an extraterrestrial signal.
So even if the moral and the stakes are ultimately quite distant from Villeneuve’s film, despite all the similarities that are obvious, we hardly noticed that in the film of Zemeckis, the finality of the adventure, the outcome is based only on contact with the aliens.
Judy Foster looks at the sky, without worrying too much about what is happening below, while in “Arrival”, if the aliens came of their own will on Earth, it is not only to provoke the meeting, but also and especially to make us understand that before wanting to get in touch with the rest of the universe, it might be time to learn to communicate with each other.
It’s not a fluffy outcome, or a particularly optimistic one, because as the film says, if the aliens help us, it’s because they will need our help later. This is not a morality full of good feelings, it is an exchange of good procedure, because in nature, this is how it happens, and frankly, just for that thank you!

I realize that this review may seem a little solemn or pompous, but I’m sorry, I can’t moderate my enthusiasm at such a film. “Arrival” has been admirably received by both critics and the public, and that’s important. These are exactly the kinds of movies that Hollywood should encourage in production.
So no, personally, I do not want to see a filmmaker as promising as Villeneuve make suites / reboots / prequels / my ass … To know that my grandchildren will have nothing to do with cinema as “Star Wars episode 89 “And” Terminator 28 “makes me pissed off.
It’s a film like “Arrival” that should make the event, and I’m glad that this film has the success it deserves.
With that, I wish you a session and a good day and always keep in mind:

“In this universe, we never create anything, we only make this memory. “