Breathing new life into the Romanian New Wave, Corneliu Porumboiu crafts a rollicking genre movie set in sun-soaked Spain, where the best laid plans of a bent cop hinge on learning a secret local whistling dialect.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
“Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu makes playful movies with a lot to say. From the chatty historical inquiries of… 12:08 East of Bucharest to the deadpan musings on the language of justice in Police, Adjective… Porumboiu has managed to mine compelling ideas out of slow-burn narrative techniques loaded with unpredictability… With his entertaining noir The Whistlers, a polished mashup of genre motifs that suggests what might happen if the Ocean’s 11 gang assembled on the Canary Islands… [Porumboiu] has made a bonafide commercial movie.
Middle-aged police inspector Cristi (Vlad Ivanov…) arrives on the island of La Gomera, where he intends to get a corrupt businessman out of prison. In order to do that, however, he must first master the whistling language of the island, which criminals have used to communicate for generations… There’s the potential for a big score, the threat of police officers closing in, and even a love story… Before long, Cristi has been sat down by femme fatale Gilda (Catrinel Marlon, [a] dynamic screen presence…) for a lesson on the whistling language… Gilda… wields her sex appeal and shooting skills with equal determination as she draws Cristi into a plan to steal some hidden loot while keeping her full agenda a secret.
The Whistlers could be ripe for an English-language remake… but that possibility carries a touch of irony, since [the film] is already a covert remake… It revisits the energy and wit of heist movies before it, as well as the filmmaker’s own… sophistication [of] his previous works, and revitalizes both traditions in the process.” — Eric Kohn, Indiewire