The Whistlers (La Gomera) by Corneliu Porumboiu is a Romanian crime thriller with a twisting plot, lots of corruption and a black comedy feel.
Sing like a Canaryby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
The Whistlers is a bizarre, noirish Romanian crime caper set mainly in the island of La Gomera in the Canaries but also in Bucharest. There’s a convoluted plot of police and criminals double crossing each other. Communication among gang members is based on an obscure, traditional island whistling code (silbo), which sounds like birdsong: it’s intended to be a secret language that will prevent police from intercepting their communications but it has other resonances.
At the root of all the shenanigans is a mobster’s hoard of money hidden in mattresses and shady Bucharest cop Vlad (veteran actor Vlad Ivanov) and the drug lord’s beautiful girlfriend (Catrinel Marlon). It’s a twisty, hard-to-follow crime thriller, but there’s clearly lots of corruption to be satirised post-Ceausescu Romania, both police and otherwise, and a rather uncomfortable black comedy feel.
The Whistlers premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and screened at the BFI London Film Festival. It is now available on demand from Curzon Home Cinema from 8 May 2020.