Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

Cast: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Agustí Villaronga, Cristóbal Pinto, Sergiu Costache, Antonio Buíl

Runtime:  97 minutes

Synopsis: Cristi, a corrupt Romanian police officer, is going to La Gomera Island to learn an ancestral whistling language. In Romania he is under police surveillance and by using this coded language he will be able to communicate with a group of mobsters trying to get Zsolt out of prison. Zsolt is the only one who knows where 30 millions of euros are hidden


The Whistlers finds Romanian New Wave writer-director Corneliu Porumboiu [Infinite Football (2018), The Treasure (2015), Police Adjective (2009), East of Bucharest (2006)] working in a more crowd-pleasing, entertaining vein than previously.

Not everything is as it seems for Cristi (Vlad Ivanov), a middle aged, undercover Bucharest police officer with ‘mommy’ issues, who plays both sides of the law.

He is drawn into a high stakes heist that takes him to a Spanish island where he has to learn the local dialect – a secret whistling language – to pull off the biggest deal of his life.

Setting off with the beautiful Gilda on this high-stakes heist, he finds that both will have to navigate the twists and turns of treachery and deception. The secret whistling language, Silbo, spoken on the Spanish island of La Gomera is what they need to pull it off.

But Cristi eventually finds himself under the noxious influence of three strong women: his manipulative, casually repressive boss Magda (Rodica Lazar); his ageing mama (Julieta Szönyi); and the manipulative, femme fatale Gilda (Catrinel Marlon).

When he rekindles the relationship with his old flame his priorities change. But both the criminals and his colleagues are on to Cristi – what choices will he make to escape his predicament? A clever game of cops and robbers ensues in this knotty, twisty and multi-layered, elegant neo-noir, thriller. An extra layer of fun comes from spotting The Whistlers’ numerous cinematic references from Neil Jordan to Orson Welles via Quentin Tarantino.

Cinematographer Tudor Mircea ably contrasts the brutal Bucharest concrete locations with the sunshine beauty of La Gomera, and there is an impressively varied soundtrack ranging from Iggy Pop, Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill to Vincenzo Bellini.

With edgy, imaginative originality, good timing and a genuine sense of wry, cynical humour, the double, triple and quadruple crosses play out in a film about communication – but loyalty is not their language in The Whistlers.


Streaming now on Curzon Home Cinema

Images courtesy of MK2 Films