Break On Through: The Invasive Humanity of Denis Villeneuve

Reflections of ourselves and our world in the director’s work.

If the cinema of Denis Villeneuve was to be summed up in only one word, that word could be “invasive.” Villeneuve tell stories about people trying to fight back against the forces seeking to infiltrate and take them over, whether it’s a DEA agent struggling against the brutal realities of her profession and how they affect her life outside work (Sicario), or a linguist trying to prevent catastrophic conflict with understanding (Arrival), or even a regular Joe trying to deflect the invasion of a doppelganger from his personal life (Enemy).

As pointed out in the newest video essay from Mr. Nerdista, invasion in the films of Villeneuve takes one of three forms: invasion of land, invasion of innocence, and invasion of privacy and identity. Using these forms as a jumping-off point, Nerdista then walks us through his argument, eruditely proving it with analyzed examples from Villeneuve’s entire filmography.

There’s no question that Villeneuve is one of the most significant directors to rise to prominence in the last few years, and with Blade Runner 2049 and Dune as the next two films on his docket, he’s poised to step up to a level reserved for our best and brightest, the icons of the medium. And like some of those other directors – Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott – Villeneuve examines large issues from a small, human perspective, thus imbuing them with a greater, longer-lasting resonance. Mr. Nerdista has done a typically-excellent job of zeroing in on just how this is accomplished, and in the process he’s revealed Villeneuve as an even more masterful storyteller than we already suspected.

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