April 24–June 30, 2020
If the Coen Brothers were Romanian, they might have made The Whistlers.A. O. Scott, New York Times
Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon,
One of the pillars of the Romanian New Wave, Corneliu Porumboiu (Police, Adjective) is known for his somber, wry studies of human nature, but none of his previous features will fully prepare you for The Whistlers, a sleek and exhilarating thriller that pays homage to the escapist spirit of Hollywood’s yesteryear. Veteran character actor Vlad Ivanov (Snowpiercer) gives a standout performance as Cristi, an undercover cop who has infiltrated the local mob. The plot revolves around Cristi’s ability to learn an obscure, bizarre whistling language—an unbreakable code that crooks use to pass information without law enforcement finding out—which adds an unexpectedly delightful running joke to what is otherwise a twisty, sexy tale full of double-crosses, showdowns, and powerful seductions. Setting aside the bristling political commentary that has been the bedrock of recent Romanian masterpieces, Porumboiu isn’t slumming; rather, he’s crafted a stunningly smart genre exercise that’s just as attuned to people’s fears and desires as his superb earlier work.