Elena (Bruna Cusí) and Diego (Alberto Ammann), a nondescript couple, are on a flight to New York City from Spain. Elena is able to sleep, but Diego moves to the tiny bathroom to swallow some kind of eye-dropper liquid. They land in New York City and end up being taken to interrogation for reasons that aren’t explained.
The remainder of the film revolves around US officials unrelentingly questioning these two seemingly innocent travelers who won a lottery to travel and settle in America. They are sequestered in a small room and are required to give officials their cell phones. They have a connecting flight to Miami in two hours, so they are understandably anxious about this unanticipated delay.
The most obvious credit to this film is the extraordinary acting. There really isn’t any action, special effects or even much variation in setting, so it must have been inexpensive to make. But Cusí and Ammann are brilliant as they portray two gradually broken down potential emigres. Exquisitely inspired acting by Laura Gómez and Ben Temple create truly fearful interrogators.
However, that’s all the credit I’m going to give this obviously politically-biased film. Even though I am an English teacher for refugees and have heard a lot of border crossing accounts, arrests and even deportations, and even though I am certainly a critic of US immigration policies, the script for “Upon Entry” just does not ring true.
Despite the filmmakers’ assertion that their script is based on their own experiences as immigrants, I doubt the veracity of the account displayed in this film.
The story of the couple trying to enter America at first sounds straight-forward. But as the interrogation continues, we wonder if Ammann’s character is working romance angles simply to get out of troubled Venezuela. And we wonder what his eye-dropper liquid for his mouth is all about. These things are unresolved.
So, despite the superb acting, I just got bored and frustrated with the plot. Travelers like Elena and Diego, coming after winning a US entry lottery (the most ridiculous gambit perpetrated by the US in countries around the world – another issue meriting examination in the first place), are already rigorously vetted before being issued an entry visa. So, from my perspective, despite a few awards and acclamations, “Upon Entry” just didn’t provide a believable scenario.
Written and directed by Venezuelan filmmakers Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastián Vásquez
Producers: Charles Torres, Carlos Juárez, Xosé Zapata, Sergio Adrià and alba Sotorra
Cast: Alberto Ammann, Bruna Cusí, Laura Gómez, and Ben Temple
Cinematography: Juan Sebastián Vásquez
Edited by: Emanuele Tiziani
Release: November 2022 (film festival circuit) and June 16, 2033 (Spain)
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