- The Whistlers
- Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
- Starring Vlad Ivanov, Rodica Lazar and Vatrinel Marlon
- Classification 18A; 97 minutes
Corrupt narcotics cop Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is sent by the gangster he serves to the Canary Islands to learn Silbo Gomero, an ancient Indigenous whistling language unique to the area. Why he must avoid detection, and to what original end, remain unclear.
To the untrained, Silbo mimics birdsong and this peculiarity is as much for absurd effect than service to story. The whistling was originally developed to more conveniently communicate across great distances and that gives writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu the perfect excuse to repeatedly frame the assorted players dwarfed by vast cityscapes and spectacular nature vistas.
Another clever complication is that due to the vagaries of the criminals involved and their nationalities, the whistling now requires retranslation through two layers of language (Romanian, then Spanish) and that heightens tension and mistrust with more potential for broken telephone (and misdirection). All this is compounded by how impassively Ivanov plays Cristi – he’s not so much a man of ambiguous loyalties as of opaque motivation. An eventual romance with a vampy femme fatale is similarly vague.
The Whistlers opens March 13 in Toronto and Vancouver, March 20 in Montreal.
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