5/10/2017 19:45.
Cert 12

In Arrival, French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve skilfully realises a science fiction scenario without the gung-ho sometimes seen in the genre . When 12 UFOs are reported around the world, language expert Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is brought in to work with the scientific and military team to communicate with the aliens and establish a dialogue. The rich visual style of cinematographer Bradford Young ensures a pleasurable and intelligent cinematic experience. “This is blockbuster science fiction with intellect; meditations on linear versus non-linear time, the ambiguities of linguistic meaning, and the way different languages shape our perceptions of reality.”  Max Von Thun, Cine Vue

Dir:  Denis Villeneuve 116 mins USA 2016

Programme Notes

Based on a short story by Ted Chiang, Story of Your Life, tonight’s big-budget season opener, from French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks, a linguistics professor who specialises in non-verbal sign systems, finding herself in a situation that powerfully undermines her painstakingly acquired academic expertise.

In opening scenes reminiscent of a Ray Bradbury fable, twelve spherical alien spacecraft have arrived on Earth without warning or explanation and Louise is conscripted by the military authorities to use her language skills in a desperate attempt to establish some sort of communication with their squid-like heptapod occupants so as to establish their intentions and motivations.

Initially well out of her academic comfort zone, Louise is coerced into collaborating with mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) along with cryptographers and a team of scientists, whereupon they become deeply involved in a web of complex and dangerous, often conflicting, international negotiations leading to a strange, unpredictable and metaphysical outcome seemingly almost beyond comprehension.

Acknowledgements: Adam Nayman, Sight & Sound

“Denis Villeneuve finally finds a subject and a script whose magnitude matches the weight he assigns to it” Sam Adams, BBC Films

“Amy Adams shines in an intelligent film that is as much about aliens as it is about being heard” Will Leitch, New Republic

Louise Banks – Amy Adams
Ian Donnelly – Jeremy Renner
Colonel Weber – Forest Whitaker
Agent Halpern – Michael Stuhlbarg
Captain Marks – Mark O’Brien
Director – Denis Villeneuve
Producers – Shawn Levy, Paul Barbeau et al.
Screenplay – Eric Heissener
Cinematography – Bradford Young
Original Music – Johann Johansson


  • Came across as a filmic puzzle. Its cryptic theme about language and communication was elucidated through a creative script structure and excellent performances from Adams and Renner
  • Fascinating commentary on time and language but would a universal language make things more peaceful? Violins too loud at the end
  • I don’t usually like Sci-fi but this was a bit special! It would stand a second viewing
  • Infinitely improbable and very confusing but gripping and with a nice feel-good ending
  • What a strange film – I got more engrossed in it as it progressed. Sound quality not very special, as background noises overpowered the dialogue!
  • Fascinating trying to understand an alien language that still used signs like pointing and mime. Some sound problems – difficult hearing the dialogue and the music drowning it out at times. Maybe the DVD balance or ABCD’s equipment ??
  • An interesting film but the sound was terrible! Not your fault, for sure – sound engineers too clever by half!
  • Sound very poor at start. Action in semi-darkness [illegible] hard to follow
  • Terrible sound track. Facile, pretentious pseudo-philosophy
  • Oh Lord! Pretentious, impenetrable and interminable. And that awful, awful soundtrack ….
  • Dialogue very hard to follow because of the loud music on top of American accents. No development, as it only made any sense in the last few minutes
  • Dialogue almost impossible to hear. Music too loud and intrusive. Disappointing!
  • Music too loud over the dialogue
  • Didn’t like the music! Thought provoking theme
  • Sound was too quiet!
  • I hope they weren’t trying to say anything important over those soaring strings because, if they were, I missed it. Generally incomprehensible
  • Subtitles would have been helpful!
  • Not sure I completely understood by the end but will look into finding out more. Interesting …. I think?
  • Confusing. A poor start to the season but – THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER! [D-Reem]
  • Klaatu barada nicto
  • Can we have Blade Runner? [Which version?]


A:7, B:14, C:8, D:7, E:1 to give 63% from 86% of those present.