“The Whistlers”: Film Review

A gorgeously deadpan thriller full of black humour and with unexpected touches of romance, Corneliu Porumboiu’s latest film turns bleak Noir into deep colour.

Inscrutable and worn, Cristi Anghelache is Bucharest’s flawed finest. He is making his way in a grim, corrupt world. Is he as tainted as his boss and colleagues, maybe even worse? His flat is bugged to the brim, and when a beautiful, mysterious woman approaches him outside his house with a proposal that is indecent in more ways than one, he finds himself obliging.

If this sounds all a bit Aki Kaurismäki, it is, yes. But also different, and delightful too. The lady from Bucharest turns out to also be the lady from La Gomera, and party to a strange plot that involves covert communications using a rare whistled language, Silbo Gomero.  The action moves to the Canaries, and while the plot darkens, perhaps some emotions sweeten. But not for long. A cruel twist, which also happens to be a filmmaker’s in-joke, is a reminder that Cristi the bent cop, and Gilda the femme fatale (spot another of several unobtrusive references), who obviously cannot stand each other – at all, are in mortal danger and surrounded by awful people.

What happens next? Twists and turns and…  Well: you should go and see it.  It’s an enjoyable film, it’s smart and fun, and it stars the incomparable Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon.  They are perfect.   This is a KinoSelect favourite.  If Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” come to mind, then you probably also remember the whistling line – you know how to whistle… don’t you?

Director and Writer Corneliu Porumboiu
DoP Tudor Mircea
With Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar

The Whistlers (La Gomera) premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. KinoSelect was there!
The film is screening in the UK on Cannes Home Cinema from 8th May 2020.