Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Movie with Abe: The Whistlers

The Whistlers
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
Released February 28, 2020

Following the law may be the right choice, but it’s not always the easy one. There are many reasons that corruption emerges, because making money where no one gets hurts and no one is likely to notice can be extremely appealing. It’s rare that such schemes remain hidden forever, and once something illegal has been exposed, it’s not usually possible for restitution to be made. Exploring the process of a person debating whether or not to do the right thing can make for an enlightening and often entertaining experience.

Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) works as a police officer in Bucharest. Following the arrest of his informant Zsolt (Sabin Tambrea), Cristi is approached by Gilda (Catrinel Marlon), who says she is Zsolt’s girlfriend and leaves Cristi a ticket to go to La Gomera in the Canary Islands. When Cristi arrives, he begins to learn a local language using only whistling so that he can help free Zsolt and communicate with Gilda and the Spanish mobsters with a vested interest in obtaining what he stole from them. Cristi shares his international activities with his commanding officer (Rodica Lazar), though his true allegiances remain less clear.

This film marks a return to a complicated focus on policework after director Corneliu Porumboiu’s 2009 film “Police, Adjective,” also starring Ivanov. There is little that is glamorous about Cristi’s work or personal life, and the actions of his partner and supervisor are often less than ethical. Cristi shares an affinity for Zsolt that in part prompts him to help Gilda, though the attraction he feels for her, developed as a result of the sex they must simulate for the cameras planted in his apartment, is definitely a strong motivating factor as well. It’s hard to imagine Cristi not yearning for something more when he knows that he is being monitored and doesn’t anticipate a career move upwards at any point.

Ivanov is a dependable actor whose work in Romanian and other international cinema has always been strong, and here he’s a good fit for the character of Cristi, who is hard to read and rarely indicates what he’s feeling about any given situation. Marlon and Lazar enhance the two worlds in which he lives, both infusing plenty of personality to make up for his lack of enthusiasm. The portrayal of the whistling language is framed comically, serving to make this light film, Romania's Oscar submission this past year for Best International Feature, that occasionally turns violent and serious an entertaining off-kilter journey.


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