First things first: Don’t read this post if you don’t want spoilers. The post is mostly about what the movie made me think about, but I am including some description of the movie itself that can (probably will) contain spoilers.
To protect your eyes from any and all spoilers, please enjoy this #TWINNING photo of me and Amy Adams.
Okay! Now that we don’t have to worry about spoiling the movie for others, here’s my review and my thoughts.
Arrival was amazing. By that, I mean AWE-MAZE-ING. Emphasis on the AWE, emphasis on the MAZE.
Have you ever seen a movie where you walk out of the movie theater thinking “Holy crap! What WAS that??” because it changed your life in ways you can’t begin to figure out? That was Arrival for me. The themes inside of this movie are so incredibly deep and unexpectedly meaningful for an alien movie.
That’s the thing about Arrival. Genre-wise, it is an extra-terrestrial movie. However, it’s less about the alien “invasion” and more about the human condition. How we perceive time, what we believe is the most important in our lives, making choices that define the rest of our lives, who we choose to associate with, how we deal with pain and set backs, and possibly even the meaning of life in general. It’s almost like the creators asked “What makes life worth living, even through the pain?” and then FREAKING ANSWERED THEIR QUESTION. MIND. BLOWN.
I can almost compare it to Terrence Malik’s The Tree of Life (with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) and Inception, but Arrival is SO much better.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me well that I absolutely LOVE Amy Adams (Enchanted, anyone?). This movie really showed her skill as an actress and I could not be more proud of my girl. Her ability to portray the complex emotions of feeling loss and longing for a child she hasn’t even had yet and a husband she has lost, but hasn’t married yet is so incredibly fantastic! Her ability to connect with these “others” that aren’t actually in front of her while she is acting is so moving and real. Props to Amy for being the most believable person I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie.
Amy’s character, Louise, is an interesting person. We start the movie knowing about how she lost her daughter to cancer and seem to be moving forward after that point. She seems to be a semi-capable linguistics professor who has had a hard life, losing her husband (divorce), and her daughter. It isn’t until later that we find out these flashbacks are actually premonitions of the future. (WHAT??) This is so important because the events taking place in the present (when Louise and Ian [Jeremy Renner] are interacting with the hectapods) show Louise’s journey and how the hectapods gifted her with their universal language of feelings, while the flashbacks to the future are the real key to her story. Even with knowing that she’ll lose her child to cancer and losing her husband by telling him about the premonitions, she still chooses to live the life that will lead to her relationship with Ian and the existence of Hannah, her child.
What strength it must take to know your future and to choose it, even though you know it will end in pain and incredible suffering. Understanding that it is better to have the time she would have with her husband and child, even though it wouldn’t last forever, than to not have them in her live at all.
Who of us would choose that? If you knew exactly what would happen to you, all the good and the bad, and had the opportunity to make a different choice to prevent a significantly painful experience, would you still choose to go through it? Would the rewards be worth the pain?
I think about my life and what I would do if I could make different choices at different points. What would have happened if I hadn’t gone to work the day I got into that really bad car accident? I’d probably still be working at my summer job, but not really being happy there. I wouldn’t have gotten this internship I love so much, because I wouldn’t be looking for it. I don’t even know if I would have taken the same classes I did this semester. That accident caused other things that made my life better, even though I’m still suffering from it, in a way. If I knew about the bills and the PTSD and the nightmares that would come with the accident before the accident happened, but also knew the blessings that would come from the changes I would make in my life, would I choose the accident over the alternative? For me, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change it if I could. However, I don’t know if I would have been strong enough to choose it before if I knew. Or maybe I would? I don’t know.
I think, in a way, it’s like how I view my theology about where we were before we were born. I believe we still existed in some state and that we made the conscious decision to come to earth, even though we had some sort of idea that it would be difficult and that we would feel sorrows so deep that we couldn’t comprehend at the time. We’re here- Me writing this, You reading this-so we must have chosen to be here. Interesting, huh? Mind feeling fuzzy? Mine too.
What about you? What would you choose? If you knew all the odds and ends and pain and happiness that you could experience, would you choose it? Would you make a different choice?
UGH! I could probably go on with the philosophical implications of these questions and write an entire novel about how this movie made me feel and what it forced me to think about, but I have finals to study for, and I’m sure you’d rather not spend that much time reading my thoughts about it.
Let me know in the comments what you thought of Arrival, or about my thoughts. Have there been any mind-blowing movies you’ve seen that changed your perception? Tell me. Ask me. Let’s walk through this together.