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Sci-fi parable 'Arrival' is 'so relevant' to our divided world says Amy Adams

The gripping sci-fi movie's stars say they had no idea it would take on a deeper meaning in the current political climate.

Amy Adams strives to find common ground with newcomers in "Arrival".

Jan Thijs

When Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner began shooting "Arrival", they had no idea how relevant it would be to 2016.

But in the midst of the refugee crisis, Brexit and a US presidential election filled with talk of building walls, the story seems all too familiar.

"I don't think anybody had this election in mind!" joked Adams, when asked if the filmmakers intended to address those real-life divisions. "The world is a different place than even a year ago. [The film] is so relevant right now."

"Arrival" stars Adams and Renner as scientists trying to figure out how to talk to mysterious alien newcomers before the world slides into disaster. The pair spoke to press at the London Film Festival, where "Arrival" is showing ahead of its release in the US, UK and Australia on 10 November.

The film deals with themes of finding common ground and striving to communicate with those we don't understand, rather than fearing and attacking others. It's not just about talking to aliens, but about talking to each other.

"We're all human, we all have something in common, so what is it?" Renner pondered. "What unites us and what divides us? Language does unite people, but it also divides people as well -- I don't speak Italian, or whatever. So you go to religion. Religion does unite a lot of people for a common cause, but ultimately every war we've had is a religious difference, sadly. What is it that every human being, I don't care if you're a cannibal or wherever the heck you live or whatever language you speak, has in common? We all have emotion."

"Fear, sadly, is the most powerful emotion," he concluded.

Adams signed on to make the film with director Denis Villeneuve before he made his previous film, the heart-stopping "Sicario". "The first 5 pages begged me to keep going," Adams said of the "Arrival" screenplay. "I had to go back and immediately re-read it again."

Like "Sicario", "Arrival" features a smart and capable woman in the lead role. Adams enjoyed playing the part, lamenting that in many films "Females are written that they're smart in the description, but they don't have anything smart to say or do."

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Jeremy Renner's performance was influenced by Richard Dreyfuss in "Jaws".

Jan Thijs

The story of a linguist and a scientist trying to decipher an alien language might sound dry and technical. But the film is taut and gripping, thanks to the emotional drama of Adams' performance as well as a deft look at what language is.

"When I started looking into linguistics, I assumed it was about being a translator or knowing a lot of languages", said Adams. "Actually you study the culture around the language and how the language was formed and processed. So much of linguistics is very mathematical, which is not in my wheelhouse, but once it became anthropological and sociological I identified with it."

Meanwhile, to bring to life a potentially dry and scientific character, Renner's performance was influenced by Richard Dreyfuss in "Jaws". "That guy just loved sharks!" Renner laughed.