Review: The Arrival of Wang / Cert: 15 / Director: Antonio & Marco Manetti / Screenplay: Antonio & Marco Manetti / Starring: Ennio Fantastichini, Francesca Cuttica, Juliet Essay Joseph / Release Date: November 12th
Every wondered what would happen to E.T. if he landed in this post 9/11 era? Brothers Antonio and Marco Manetti attempt to answer that very question with this refreshing, left field, Italian sci-fi gem. A movie that helps repair any Strause-induced phobia of sibling co-directors.
The Arrival Of Wang does not mess about, it gets stuck right into the narrative with interpreter Gaia (a performance of conviction by Cuttica) getting the offer of a simple job for the Government, and being lured in by the offer of a couple of thousand Euros. Almost immediately she is apprehensively blindfolded and arrives at a Government location to interpret the questioning of the mysterious (and exclusively Mandarin speaking) ‘Mr Wang’. Thus begins a heated guessing game between the characters and the audience as to who (if anyone) has malevolent intentions.
In this era of modern filmmaking, where everyone armed with a cheap camcorder is trying to artificially manufacture a ‘B movie’ or ‘cult classic’, with film buffs being cynically bombarded with the latest ‘Mega-boredom Vs Crock-a-bollocks’ flicks, it's easy for movies like this to be tarred with the same brush. Happily it can be reported that The Arrival Of Wang is the real deal. A low budget Italian sci-fi that fans of genre classics like The Day The Earth Stood Still (the Keanu-free variety), will find highly rewarding.
The Arrival Of Wang is one of the simplest movies you will ever see. Telling a story of literally cosmic importance - via a simple interrogation in a white room. The two central performances provide the fuel for an amazing atmosphere of tension and claustrophobia, which is maintained pretty much throughout the entire movie. It uses this atmosphere to explore paranoia, and it’s inherent strengths which are often overlooked within the usual focus upon its negative effect on personality. It also engages your perceptual beliefs on torture, achieving this without once resorting to condescend its audience. It even manages to deliver an iconic closing line that is sure to make you laugh out loud.
Of course the CGI Nazis will be less than impressed with the ‘star’ of this little treat, and will probably see this as a negative that undermines its credibility. We didn't find that to be a problem. The effects are mere backdrops to the central dilemma, and as such they perform more than adequately. It is the direct antithesis to the usual effects laden blockbuster, that usually deliver in converse measures.
There is a lot of deliberate confusion at the core of this movie, but one thing is for certain - The Arrival Of Wang is a gripping and well-crafted masterpiece that should not be missed.