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Review: ‘The Arrival Of Wang’ Is Something To Celebrate

San Diego Italian Film Festival Highlights New Sci-Fi Thriller

Saffron Hill

Gaia (Francesca Cuttica) is an Italian interpreter who's persuaded by a government agent (Ennio Fantastichini) to translate an examination of a mysterious Mr. Wang.

Aired 6/17/14 on KPBS News.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews The Arrival of Wang screening as part of the San Diego Italian Film Festival monthly series.

Transcript

Italian cinema is best known for neo-realism, spaghetti westerns and Sophia Loren. But Thursday at the Digital Gym Cinema you can find a rare science fiction film courtesy of the San Diego Italian Film Festival.

"The Arrival of Wang" opens with a phone call. An Italian interpreter is asked by a government agent to translate the interrogation of an enigmatic Chinese gentleman referred to only as Mr. Wang.

The request is both urgent and bizarre. She’s told she must go immediately — no questions asked — and that she needs to remain blindfolded the entire time. As the interrogation unfolds she grows sympathetic towards the Chinese gentleman and suspicious of the man who hired her. And that’s all I’ll say because this is a case where the less you know, the better the story is.

You don’t see a lot of contemporary sci-fi films from Italy but this one from the genre-hopping Manetti Brothers makes you want to see more. The slow build surrounding the secretive interrogation and the tension about who Mr. Wang is keeps the viewer engaged thoroughly. Plus it raises questions about interrogation procedures in a post-9/11 world. Politically, the main character leans to the left in her perspective but the film takes a more right-wing stance regarding threats to national security. Regardless of which side you favor, the film provides plenty to mull over and entertains along the way.

Avoid the trailer, though, it gives far too much away.

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