Director: Florin Serban
Cast: George Pistereanu, Ana Condeescu, Clara Voda, Mihai Constantin
Available format: DVD (Romanian with English subtitles); Running time: 93 minutes
Where can you get it? Check your local library system or visit www.filmmovement.com
Every once in a while a film comes along that starts off as a potential yawn then knocks your socks off. Unexpectedly raw, engrossing and commanding visceral reactions from its viewing audience, Romanian offering If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle does just that. Directed by Florin Serban, Whistle follows Chiscan Silviu (George Pistereanu) as he serves his last two weeks of a four-year juvenile prison sentence. Relatively soft-spoken and noted by the prison warden (Mihai Constantin) for being a good boy, Silviu bides his time like all other inmates (between manual labor, group meals and outdoor games). During a visit from his little brother one afternoon Silviu receives a startling revelation that sets him into calculated plans in order to stop it from happening. Along the way he endures abuse at the hands of the prison guards and sexual harrassment from a particular inmate. When things don’t go as planned and pleas to the warden for early release continually go ignored, Silviu puts it all on the line in his race against time, making a shocking stand that he may not survive.
Carrying a film in one’s first movie role is no trifle. Yet George Pistereanu as Silviu is engaging, good-looking and full of quiet fury. Though it’s not explained what he is in prison for and he has many unresolved childhood neglect issues with his mother (Clara Voda), it’s obvious Silviu’s little brother is his heartbeat. Part hero, part monster, part lover, Silviu’s character is very much shaped by elements of his immediate environment. Under Florin’s direction, the dynamics of his confinement are realistically brought to the screen supported by solid, colorful performances by additional castmates, including Ana Condeescu in the role of the social worker Silviu has eyes for.
Shot in a gritty, hand-held style that induces further heat as the intensity of Silviu’s situation reaches its breathtaking climax, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle turns into a different kind of movie before your eyes. Before even realizing you’re in a storm, you’re left blown away.
Bottom Line: ‘It’s always the quiet ones’…so the saying goes…