Implied Readership: Memory and Time in ‘Arrival’

As Louise stands outside a secluded lake house remembering her daughter’s short life, we witness the birth, life, and death of a young girl. Villeneuvre knows we will deconstruct this sequence and assume it is a flashback. The scene is immediately followed by Louise at work, seemingly mourning the death of her daughter, and the meaning we attach to her is derived from the opening sequence. The entire film hinges on the juxtaposition of these two scenes and the way in which we read them. In considering the implied reader, Villeneuvre misdirects the audience and sets up the narrative for the final twist, in which the flashbacks are in fact premonitions.



Villeneuve, Denis. 2016. Arrival [Film]