The Arrival of Wang (2011) Movie Review

Ennio Fantastichini and Francesca Cuttica in The Arrival of Wang (2011) Movie Image

“The Arrival of Wang” is screening at Film4 Frightfest in London on Saturday 25th August with directors the Manetti brothers in attendance, and will be released via Saffron Hill Films on UK DVD 8th October 2012 after premiering on VOD in September.

“The Arrival of Wang” (“L’Arrivo di Wang”) is an Italian science fiction outing from brotherly writer director team Marco and Antonio Manetti, a high concept piece of fun inspired by the likes of “The X Files” and “The Twilight Zone”. Having helmed “Zora the Vampire” and the upcoming giallo “Paura 3D”, the brothers have placed themselves firmly at the forefront of a revival of Italian genre cinema, and though the film works on a number of different levels, it’s first and foremost one for the fans, and clearly made by fans. Given that the film is one which revolves around certain twists, for those who wish to see it with as little prior knowledge as possible (definitely a good idea), be aware that the following review will contain a few minor plot details which may or may not be considered spoilers. If you’re going to stop reading here, safe to say, “The Arrival of Wang” is a solid and enthusiastic little film with a few surprises up its playful sleeve and which is well worth checking out.

Set in Rome, the plot begins with interpreter Gaia (actress Francesca Cuttica, soon to be seen in “Paura 3D”) agreeing to take on at very short notice a well-paying but mysterious job. Blindfolded and quickly whisked away to an unknown location by the gruff Inspector Curti (Ennio Fantastichini, “Loose Cannons”), she is sat down in a dark room opposite an unseen man called Wang and asked to translate in Chinese. As Curti’s questions and behaviour towards the polite Wang become increasingly aggressive, Gaia realises that she is caught up in something dangerous, and which might have serious implications not only for her, but for the human race.

Francesca Cuttica in The Arrival of Wang (2011) Movie Image

Without wanting to give much away (and hopefully DVD and poster art will do the same) “The Arrival of Wang” is a neatly constructed film which, as can probably be guessed from the above, basically revolves around the two questions as to who Wang is and what his intentions are. As with any film like this, its success is largely down to the timing and effectiveness of its main twists and revelations, and on this score the Manetti brothers do a very solid job indeed both as writers and directors. Although most viewers will probably see the ending coming the film is nevertheless gripping throughout, a fun and entertainingly schlocky ride that wears its love for the genre proudly on its sleeve.

With a well-thought out structure that helps to build the tension and judicious use of flashbacks and exposition, the film moves along at a fast pace, and clocking in at just an hour and twenty minutes shows a pleasing sense of economy. The Manettis make great use of their limited budget and locations, giving the film a claustrophobic look and putting the viewer in the interrogation room with the characters, with some creative use of camera angles and lighting, as well as some cheerful special effects.

Francesca Cuttica in The Arrival of Wang (2011) Movie Image

Whilst the film performs best when viewed simply as entertainment, to their credit the Manettis have woven in some underlying themes which work well to give the film a little extra creditability and depth. On its most basic level the film deals with issues of trust, playing this to enhance its tension and psychological drama, throwing in some fairly obvious though fitting concerns of prejudice and xenophobia at the same time. Beyond this, it’s tempting to view the film as a mischievous commentary on post 9-11 paranoia and as a far out way of confronting viewers with the question as to whether or not torture interrogations can ever be justified.

Such motifs complement the film’s science fiction and puzzle box elements quite comfortably, and help to make “The Arrival of Wang” both enjoyable and reasonably intelligent, a rare enough combination. The Manetti brothers are clearly talents to be watched out for in the future, and it is hoped that they will continue to try their hand at livening up Italian genre cinema and bringing it back to the glory days.

Antonio Manetti, Marco Manetti (director) / Antonio Manetti, Marco Manetti (screenplay)
CAST: Ennio Fantastichini … Curti
Francesca Cuttica … Gaia
Juliet Esey Joseph … Amunike
Antonello Morroni … Max
Li Yong … Wang
Jader Giraldi … Falco
Rodolfo Baldini … De Renzi