Upon Entry 2022 Film Poster

Upon Entry Film Review

Why I took it off the list: I hadn’t heard of this low-budget Spanish flick until IMDB recommended it to me.

I was immediately interested in checking it out after reading the plot description, thinking that a film almost solely focused on an intense US immigration interview could be quite gripping if done right.

Plus the fact that it was shot in Spanish, Catalan, and English, and concerns a Barcelona-based couple intrigued me as a resident of that city. So, let’s dig in!

Review of Upon Entry (2022)

Still from Upon Entry (2022)

Upon Entry is one of those (almost) single-location, dialogue-heavy chamber pieces that needs a tight script, good acting, and deft direction to succeed. Luckily, this lo-fi but deeply engaging film has all the right ingredients in place.

It starts in Barcelona (and doesn’t leave in the real world going by the IMDB filming locations, but the decent production design and casting don’t give that away). Thirty-something couple Diego and Elena are taking a cab to the airport, ready to start a new life in the United States with visas they’ve managed to get through the Green Card Lottery.

All seems like business like usual until they land in New York and hints of unease are dropped that things might not go as smoothly as they may like. First, they can’t find their customs declaration card or a pen, so they borrow the latter from a stranger on the same flight (something seemingly innocuous that generates considerable tension later).

The same stranger compliments Venezuelan-born Diego about his Catalan in a seemingly passive-aggressive way. And Diego begins to get a bit jittery in the queue for passport inspection, hoping out loud that they’ll get assigned the least intimidating-seemingly border agent.

But shit really hits the fan when the aforementioned inspector decides to flag up the couple as suspicious, and they are led to an interview area for further questioning. It’s not really until here that we get to know the couple’s backstory — and there are plenty of surprises for both us and, more intriguingly, for them.

Remains Tense and Surprising Despite the Confined Setting

To say much more about the plot progression would be to give away many of the tense turns this film takes — mostly thanks to the questionable actions that the US immigration agents assigned to this case utilize. By the end of this ‘interview’, the agents have achieved what they set out to do — but, the film asks us, at what human cost?

The film is in no way subtle about whose side it’s on in this battle of wits — a radio announcement of Trump’s search for funds to build his Mexico wall plays over the opening credits.

Nevertheless, Upon Entry manages to cram in a surprising amount of nuance, most notably in having one of the interrogators be from an immigrant family, and in Diego having escaped a harrowing background in Venezuela. The things from his past that emerge in the course of the interview give us (and his partner, for that matter) considerable cause for pause. But, remarkably, we remain largely on their side.

The actors are all exceptional, and it’s incredibly easy to put ourselves in the shoes of each one of them. However, the biggest standout in the cast is Laura Gómez as the lead interrogator.

The Orange Is the New Black actress never particularly stood out among that series’ formidable ensemble. But here she cuts an imposing, terrifying, but understandable figure who you don’t ever want to meet in real life.

Final Score: 8/10

Upon Entry (2022): Worth Watching?

Yes, Upon Entry is a consistently suspenseful drama that makes up for anything it lacks in scope with strong writing, directing, and acting.

Believable and often disturbing, if nothing else it’ll make you think twice about attempting to move to the United States. Additionally, it commendably sticks the landing with an ambiguous and thought-provoking ending, ensuring it’ll stay with you long after the credits roll.

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