Director Denis Villeneuve has been making movies since the 1980s (back when his specialities were documentaries and short films), but it was his work on the critically-acclaimed 2011 film Incendies – the Middle Eastern-set drama based on Wajdi Mouawad’s play of the same name – that cemented the filmmaker’s status as an intriguing storyteller with an interest in exploring timely social and political themes. Villeneuve has continued that practice even as he has gained more attention and shifted into working on such well-received genre films as the child kidnapping drama/thriller Prisoners and, most recently, the Mexican drug crime/thriller Sicario.
However, Villeneuve clearly has a fondness for thought-provoking science-fiction fare too, as evidenced by his doppelgänger thriller Enemy – based on José Saramago’s novel “The Double” – and the fact that his next directorial effort (which starts filming in July) is going to be the as-yet untitled sequel to Ridley Scott’s futuristic noir/sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. Villeneuve also has an adaptation of Ted Chiang’s 1998 sci-fi short story “Story of Your Life” in the pipeline, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, among other well-established character actors.
Story of Your Life has been retitled Arrival and is set to be released in U.S. theaters by Paramount Pictures on November 11th, 2016. The project has been in the works for a while now (Adams was reported to have joined the cast back in April 2014), but Paramount is clearly optimistic about the film’s awards season potential – having scheduled Arrival to open on the same weekend as director Ang Lee’s own potential Oscar-contender, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and one week after director Mel Gibson’s true story-inspired WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge enters this year’s awards season race.
Arrival, as was written for the screen by Eric Heisserer (The Thing (2011), Hours), tells the story of Dr. Louise Banks (Adams), a military linguist who is recruited to try and communicate with an alien spacecraft that has landed on Earth. As Louise struggles to determine whether the extraterrestrials come in peace or have hostile intentions, she begins to experience powerful flashbacks to her past – visions that may be the key to understanding the aliens’ intents. Renner plays Ian Donnelly, a physicist who helps Louise, while the film’s supporting is rounded out by such names as Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), Tzi Ma (Hell on Wheels), and Mark O’Brien (Halt and Catch Fire).
Villeneuve has not only become a more prolific director than ever (having released a new film nearly every year for the past decade), he’s also regarded to be working at the top of his game right now. This not only bodes well for his Blade Runner 2, but also Arrival: a sci-fi movie that hasn’t generated much in the way of pre-release buzz to date, but which easily could as we move closer to its release date (and the trailer arrives). Arrival also has the potential to be a sci-fi offering that’s bridges the gap between those film buffs who have enjoyed most of Villeneuve’s recent output, but found Enemy to be too abstract and inaccessible in style for its own good.
Similarly, Arrival could mark a nice change of pace from Adams and Renner’s recent superhero blockbuster work on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, respectively. The pair did appear in David O. Russell’s American Hustle together – but unlike that film, Arrival will provide moviegoers a chance to watch the two act directly opposite one another on the big screen.
Arrival opens in U.S. theaters on November 11th, 2016.
Source: Paramount Pictures