Sunday, May 7, 2017
The title of Amy Adams' latest film Arrival seemed a bit lame to me until I realised it was intended as a subtle - too subtle, in my opinion - tribute to one of the greatest records of all time: ABBA Arrival. This realisation has made all the difference to my appreciation of the film and explains why an actor with the initials AA was cast to play the lead. I do prefer it when things make sense.
But seriously; ABBA aside, Adams brings real-world (and real-woman) cred to this alien-invasion film based on a short story 'Story of Your Life' by American-Chinese author Ted Chiang about the fluffy physics of wondering what we would do if we knew the future. She is great, even though she can't sing or dance.
But though the story and the reviews of the film have not emphasised this, one of the main strengths of the film for me is the progressive gender commentary and critique it offers, with the contrasting roles played by Adams and her male support, Jeremy Renner, representing the female emphasis on language, patient understanding and lateral problem-solving as a more subtle and ultimately superior response to our failures of communication than the male emphasis on logic, abstract physics, and, if that doesn't work, concrete weaponry that has prevailed throughout history
I think this is the direction our sci-fi imaginings of the near and distant future need to be heading in, rather than continuing to assume weaponry and wizardry (math) will help us fix the present and find the future.
And really what the film is saying is that the future of humanity lies in both types of reasoning (female and male) coming together to work out how better to support each other to save the future from the past by moving beyond the profoundly destructive conflict that has existed between men and women throughout much of history the world over.
When men and women work together, as they are meant to, as they do in this film, and as they did in ABBA, more or less, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Indeed we may even be able to see the future.
Knowing me, knowing you is what it's all about, indeed, and I really think that should have been the Arrival theme song.