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Review: ‘The Whistlers’ is a Well-Written, Engaging Heist Film

The Whistlers is Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu’s heist thriller. In the film, Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a Bucharest police inspector that plays both sides of the law. Cristi decides to team up with Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) for an exciting, high-stakes heist. It’s when they take a trip to the Canary Islands that things really get interesting. There they realize that a secret language (whistling) may be their saving grace.

This film follows Cristi’s story, which is told through narrative episodes that each begin by explaining which supporting character we’ll focus on in the next segment. The film weaves in and out of each story and it does a fantastic job of keeping you guessing who Cristi is actually working for.

Ivanov’s acting is what made this movie work. He was exceptionally talented at making everyone believe him. If he was trying to convince another character that he was working for them, he did it so well that even the audience bought it. We never truly know what’s going on with his character. Ivanov’s talent also allowed him to showcase a range of different acting abilities. Whether he was being a lover or a killer, he executed the role flawlessly. This was a great introduction to Ivanov for me and, I predict, it will be for American audiences.

Aside from just Ivanov, the ensemble cast is also strong. It’s led by a remarkable performance from Marlon who, at times, felt like the heartbeat of the film. Her femme-fatale character’s development was truly some of the best I’ve seen this year.

Technically speaking, this film was very sound. The color palette chosen by Tudor Mircea was gorgeous. Whether it was the vibrant colors of nature or the dark monotone colors that were featured during the darkest parts of the film, the colors heightened the viewing experience. The same can be said for the score of the film. It had a jazzy feel to it which enhanced the darker tone of the film.

Ordinarily, films that are made this complex have a hard time coming back together at the end. However, writer/director Porumboiu was able to tie all the loose ends together. He also engaged us with this wonderfully written film that showed corruptness with deadpan comedy sprinkled in.

The Whistlers is one of those films that leaves audiences exhausted, in the best possible way. It keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering who’s deceiving who, who’s going to kill who and how this will end.

The Whistlers opens Friday (March 13) at the Belcourt Theatre. Find out more about upcoming showtimes here.

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