Cinema Review: The Whistlers | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, September 19th, 2020  

The Whistlers

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu

Feb 25, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu has created a neat, sexy thriller but its convoluted ideas aren’t as clean as a whistle.

When committing to a twisty, double-crossing noir, you have to lend weight to the dirty deals and sleek deception bedded into the plot. You need to have a pop to your ideas that keep each turn of the tale bouncing as much as the film would have you on your toes. When we’re introduced to cop and mafia informant Cristi (Vlad Ivanov), he’s arriving on the Spanish island of  La Gomera to learn an ancestral whistling language. With a finger wedged in your mouth like you’re about to blow your brains out with a gun, you’re able to create a whistling sound used to go undetected by police surveillance. Posing as birds going about their day, the mafia—as well as Cristi—are able to communicate their criminal activity without being picked up by police.

It’s an interesting enough premise—I myself have spent several minutes with a finger in my mouth failing to replicate the whistle—but this cute little device isn’t played with nearly enough humor and pizzazz as it could be. Along with Cristi’s complicated balancing act, other characters find themselves at the mercy of both police and mafia. Businessman Zsolt (Sabin Tambrea) is laundering millions in drug money, wanted for his crimes by the police and for his money by the gangsters. Then there’s Gilda (Catrinel Menghia), an aid to the mafia who are gradually finding less and less use for her as she entangles herself in the personal life of Cristi and his conflicting interests.

Of the supporting cast, few characters get much more than a morsel to chew on (the same could be said of Cristi too). Gilda is beautiful, charming, and Menghia plays the underused femme fatal with an expert amount of style. Her character lacks depth though, and it could be said that her sex appeal is utilized at every available opportunity, whereas her capabilities as complicated, commanding co-lead are not nearly as much.

There is style here, and the plot’s finer points are managed quite succinctly. The film’s climax is set up in a pleasing way but with a delivery that feels somewhat subdued. The Whistlers has all the ingredients for a very fine thriller but falls short at every step where it could exploit the pulpy nature of the premise. It’s a competently made and neatly crafted thriller that stumbles where it really matters.       


Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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