TIFF 2016: ‘Arrival’ Is An Arty, Twisty Alien Invasion Movie

Who’s Behind It

Canadian director, Denis Villeneuve whose streak of recent successful TIFF-screened movies include Sicario, Enemy, and Prisoners.

Who’s In It

Amy Adams (in one of two films she stars in at the festival this year), Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.


Who’ll Love It

Arrival will find an audience with sci-fi fans of course, but its appeal (thanks in large part to Adams’ charm and star power) is much broader. While there are aliens at the centre of the story (cool-looking ‘septopods’ that instantly call to mind the creature Villeneuve gave us a brief introduction to at the end of Enemy), the movie is about human relationships on a worldwide scale. When a global crisis strikes, can we pull it together as a planet, or will arbitrary borders become insurmountable barriers? Villeneuve is an optimist. Maybe.

What’s It About

12 alien ships make their simultaneous arrival at various points across the globe. Every 18 hours, a door opens, and we go in. Unable to communicate with the visitors or determine their intentions, the US military recruits the country’s top linguist (Adams), bringing her to the Montana landing site (because if you’re going to visit one spot in America, make it Montana) to see if she can decipher the alien message.


Why You Should See It

Villeneuve’s invasion movie is more 2001: A Space Odyssey than Independence Day. Its artful take on humanity’s first interactions with extraterrestrials is thoughtful, hopeful, and beautiful to look at. After seeing it, the trailer seems a bit misleading (probably to conceal any clues about the plot’s smart third act twist) but that isn’t a criticism—this movie is better than the promo clips make it out to be.

When You Can See It

The movie premieres on Monday, September 12 at 9:30pm. Additional screenings are scheduled for Tuesday September 13 and Sunday September 18.

Arrival invades theatres across Canada on November 11. Check out the trailer below.