The Whistlers (Romanian)
Starring Vlad Ivanov as Cristi, Catrinel Marlon as Gilda
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
Rating: **(2 stars)
If I were you, I wouldn’t try to pronounce the names of the actors, director and technicians in the Romanian film where the hero, is a balding over-the-hill cop with monstrously ambiguous moral values who is invited to a remote island by the excruciatingly enigmatic Gilda (Cartinel Marlon) to help her rescue an imprisoned drug dealer.
At the Spanish island, the compromised cop Cristi learns a whistling language of communication. It really doesn’t matter which spoken language the characters speak in. They all sound like creatures from an alien planet who have just discovered the pleasures of being part of a cryptic project where everyone has something to hide and no one seems to know what they are hiding, and from whom.
There is this third important character a female cop named Magda (Rodica Lazar) who steps out of her office for a smoke every time she wants to indulge in corrupt practices. You may want to follow Ms Magda out of her office and right out of the film too provided there are exits to the futile darkness that the Romanian directors spills into the frames creating a world so dimly lit, it can’t find its own center. And so dark the characters can’t tell their mouth from their nether region.
From what I could make out of Criti (Vlad Ivanov) he is not very clear on his head about which side he wants to be on. Because the good side, the law enforcement agency, is not so good after all. As for the bad side, it is as dark sinister and uninviting as the mafia has always been. At one point a wandering curious filmmaker strolls into the mafia hideout. He is given a two-gun salute.
So let me get to the point. There is no point to this exercise in deep silhouetting undertaken to give really a dark shade to the noir thriller. In the cinema of Roman Polanski and Alan Pakula you come across sultry pouty aggressively sexy mysterious heroines and morally confounded extremely masculine investigators who fall for the lethal charms of the ferociously seductive femme fatale.
Remember Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson in Chinatown? If the two had been put in the pointless unnecessarily dark desultory aimless plot, the result would have been The Whistlers.
The Whistlers is one of the most pretentiously dark films I’ve seen in recent times. That is excusable. But it also an enormously dull lifeless film where even a crucial lovemaking sequence resembles a seance more than seduction. And that’s inexcusable.