Tuesday 5 May 2020

The Whistlers (La Gomera) [2019]

Anyone who has ardently followed Porumbiou’s filmography is bound to be left supremely surprised by his dramatic stylistic departure in The Whistlers (minutest of connects to Police, Adjective aside, which he’d made a decade back). In place of the formal rigour, stark aesthetics bereft of non-diagetic sounds, rambling conversations, bone dry humour and contexts seeped in Romania’s political milieu (though, When Even Falls on Bucharest did deviate on the last point) that one readily associates with his arresting and distinctive works thus far, what we have here – a jaunty, clever, crafty, byzantine and entertaining genre exercise with an intricately structured non-linear plot, flamboyant intertitles and the flavour of a stylish crime thriller, albeit the decidedly deadpan and low-key approach (it’s a Porumbiou film after all) – stood out in all aspects. The departure was immediately discernible in the opening scene itself, as we see Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) – a shady, taciturn Bucharest cop who’s either in the payroll of gangsters, or has planned an elaborate ruse to double cross everyone – heading towards the Canary Islands to the throbbing beats of Iggy Pop’s The Passenger (there’s usage of a soulful opera score as well in a couple of tense later scenes). As it turns out, Cristi has come to learn the ancient whistling language of Silbo Gomera and help the underworld get hold of an enormous stash of drug money. As a deadly cat-and-mouse game ensues, he finds himself getting attracted to a stunning, voluptuous femme fatale (Catrinel Marlon), while evading, on one hand, his striking and potentially duplicitous boss (Rodica Lazar), and, on the other, the vicious mobsters. The film, interestingly, is packed with cinematic references – from The Searchers to Psycho.

Director: Corneliu Porimbiou
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Neo-Noir
Language: Romanian
Country: Romania

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