Written and directed by the Manetti Bros., The Arrival of Wang follows Chinese-language interpreter Gaia who is called out of the blue by a former client with an offer from a mysterious person or persons who will pay Gaia handsomely is she would she carry out an extremely urgent and confidential translation assignment? Intrigued by the urgency and the money on offer Gaia accepts the job only to find herself whisked away to a secret location in Rome where she meets is ushered into a pitch-black room where she is asked to interpret the harsh interrogation of the eponymous “Mr Wang”. Disturbed by the way the interrogation is going and intrigued to find out more about Mr. Wang, Gaia demands that the lights are switched on, lest she continue with her translations. However when the lights come on Gaia realises why the job has come with so much mystery and subterfuge. And that she may be in way over her head…
The Arrival of Wang is that rare beast in modern genre cinema – a film which works on multiple levels and is more than just the sum of its parts. On the surface the film is a science fiction fantasy about the discovery of alien life on earth. However scratch beneath that surface and you have a superbly made psychological drama that speaks to the war on terror, the use of torture in times of war, the role of government in protecting its citizens and most of all prejudice.
The success of The Arrival of Wang comes down to three key things: a cracking script from Antonio Manetti and Marco Manetti, a fantastic cast – especially legendary Italian actor Ennio Fantastichini as the stern government agent in charge of the interrogation, and superb direction from Antonio Manetti and Marco Manetti, who imbue the film with a real sense of urgency and claustrophobia that only heightens the tension of the interrogation scenes and the film as a whole.
Feeling very much like a modern interpretation of Rod Serling’s classic The Twilight Zone, The Arrival of Wang twists and turns it’s way through the story, never revealing who is right or who is wrong or what the real story is behind the motivations of both the government agents AND the mysterious Mr. Wang. Plus, unlike a lot of Hollywood’s jingoistic sci-fi output, the Manetti Bros. don’t spoon-feed the audience with massive amounts of exposition that tells you how and what you should feel, instead the film asks a lot of questions of the audience – how they feel about the use of torture in times of “war”, the treatment of prisoners etc. It’s powerful stuff.
I had the distinct honour and pleasure of chatting with the Manetti Bros. the day before the screening of The Arrival of Wang at the Glasgow Frightfest back in February and it was great to find that the duo are fellow film geeks who are working towards keeping the Italian genre movie flag flying. And judging by this, their latest genre effort, Italian cinema couldn’t be in more safer and worthy hands. In fact between the brothers Manetti and singer-come-director Federico Zampaglioni, Italian cinema could finally see the resurgence that fans have been clamouring for.
If you like your fantasy and sci-fi to come with a social and political edge then The Arrival of Wang (aka L’Arrivo di Wang) is essential viewing.
This was a Review By Phil At Blogomatic3000
UK Release Date: 25th August 2012 (Frightfest) 8th October 2012 (UK DVD Release)
Directed By: Antonio Manetti, Marco Manetti
Cast: Ennio Fantastichini, Francesca Cuttica , Juliet Esey Joseph