If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?
Arrival is ridiculous. I’m fully aware of how I’m apparently alone on this struggle, but I can’t bring myself to enjoy this rubbish script. Believe me, I wanted to like this movie, I had high hopes for this movie (since no one shut up about it) and I was pissed at how disappointed I was by the credit roll.
I have no problems with Arrival’s sets, cinematography or acting. Everyone did their best with the script they got. The movie is beautiful, the alien props are designed super well and I like the visual vibe of the all thing. On another note, Kudos to the sound team for making me noxious and close to fearing for my life on those ‘approach the alien’ sort of scenes. Seriously, sound work (pun intended).
On a side note, a round of applause for the Portuguese translators that decided to name this Primeiro Encontro, aka First Encounter, aka First Date. That’s an Oscar worthy pun.
We can also applaud Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner without shame. They did a remarkable job. I’ve described my admiration for Adam’s work time and time again, we don’t need me to ramble around this subject again. Renner, I like that guy, I think he brings a very particular warmth to most characters, he’s the effortlessly charismatic good guy next door, a sort of good guy you could actually meet charismatic, not necessarily the hunk Captain America good guy next door charismatic.
Yet, I cannot prompt a standing ovation for Eric Heisserer (I know that’s harsh, but I have strong feelings about this script). As far as I know Story of Your Life, the short story written by Ted Chiang on which this movie is based on, focuses on Louise’s struggles on communicating with these aliens and her personal tale on the old ‘If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?’ conundrum. And I think that’s great, that story makes a great point, that sequence of events is touching and relatable and it says a lot about human nature. Enough that we don’t need all this ‘mankind must come together’ bullshit and disagreements with China (who wrote this after all? Trump?)
A movie with the aliens and Louise’s struggle of bringing a child to life just to watch her die soon after and scar her husband for life would make for a better, less all over the place experience. None of that humanity falling to shitty pieces of violence, crappy diplomacy and stupidity stuff. And that would be fine, beautiful, deep, emotional, enlightening.
Why in the fuck would you conjure up that individual tale with this larger than life topic of facing extinction just to leave both of them unfinished?
This film ends up being all about Louise, the journey of motherhood, human condition. Yet, it doesn’t start that way, most of the movie sequences have little to do with it. It mixes the traditional scope of a sci-fi flick of the tiny scope of what life really means to each of us. That could sound like revolutionary, fresh, original storytelling, but because that mixture fails, because there’s no parallelism, no connection, it’s just confusing, unfinished mumbo jumbo. That ultimately takes from Louise’s story, which could be treated with proper depth, understanding, beauty and care.
The movie pushes blockbuster like features into a personal journey and doesn’t merge the two things, no harmony, no fusion. It’s just bullshit that could’ve been so great that falls short of amazing just by a few inches.