Denis Villeneuve has been on a hot streak for the past few years, flawlessly moving from French to English Language, picking up various acting stars and making memorable, brilliant films along the way; and with his latest film moving on to massive box office success. Starring Amy Adams as linguist Dr. Louise Banks, tasked with communicating with the inhabitants of one of the twelve “shells” that have arrived on Earth, alongside physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), to find out their purpose before some are tempted to take drastic action. Also starring: Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien and Tzi Ma.
Amy Adams career has not always taken the right turn, though she may have given good performances in films such as Big Eyes and American Hustle, they haven’t always been inherent successes, this is the film to change that. Adams shines throughout the entire film, with her character being put through so much mentally and physically, there’s barely a pause and she keeps up with every second of it perfectly, bringing the audience along with her for the journey. Of course it helps that she’s been given such a fantastic character to portray, Dr. Banks is smart, quick, ambitious and relentless which given that most strong female characters these days involve skimpy costumes, it’s a much needed change from the norm, a character that keeps you focused on her for the entire film without exception. Renner is another actor with an interesting filmography, most of which hasn’t been entirely flattering, his most relatable character to date of course being Hawkeye in the Avenger series but this performance is a collection of all the highlights of those others, mixing humour, kindness, strength, bravery and intelligence to create, again another great character. The two of them on the screen is like watching old friends work together with ease, they have impeccable chemistry and make an excellent team.
There are an abundant amount of positives to this film, not only is it visually stunning as well as a perfect balance of seeing just enough to work the imagination and not enough to give everything away, it’s also addresses the alien issue in a creative way without having to add too much flare or flamboyance, it’s simple and elegant. Adding to that it has an incredibly strong story, moving at a superb pace that keeps you glued to the screen, revealing gradually more and more as the plot develops, never giving too much away at one time, it’s clever and extremely entertaining. Even more to that point is the emotion it has to offer, it may be a film about extra-terrestrials but the human elements of it are done so well, the reactions, feelings, choices and themes of being understanding, respectful, patient and kind, rather than the usual clichéd aggression and violence, it’s an incredibly refreshing and interesting take on the sci-fi genre. With an added bonus that both Dr. Banks and Donnelly are wonderful role models of characters, for all ages, kind-hearted, intelligent, ambitious and successful, instead of brash or obnoxious action heroes.
Villeneuve has done it again and created a film that’s not only suspenseful and clever but utterly satisfying to watch for every minute. It is exactly the type of film that’s needed at the moment, presenting a positive image of people working together, no matter their origin or beliefs, promoting patience and understanding, while being very entertaining. Villeneuve was and still is one to watch.