AW Kautzer's Film Review Film

Film Review: The Whistlers/La Gomera (2020)


Writer/Director Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Whistlers/La Gomera is the kind of crackerjack whip-smart Crime Thriller that we rarely get nowadays.  

The Whistlers/La Gomera is the type of commercial Crime Thriller that US Studios would excel at.  Now one must find these types of films abroad. Writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu’s film is as entertaining and rewarding a film that you’ll see this year. 

Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is in a bit of a pickle.  A police officer on the take, he’s in the midst of being hung out to dry by his Captain (Rodica Lazar) who knows he’s on the take.  To make matters worse Paco (Agustí Villaronga) knows it too.  He’s forced into a deadly game; his every move is tracked on both sides. Paco forcing Cristi into a gambit that involves him learning El Silbo (a whistling version of Spanish, I kid you not). Can Cristi manage to save his own skin, save the Femme possible Fatale (Catrinel Marlon), and get away with $10 million Euro? 

The script by Porumboiu is a marvel clockwork of moving pieces.  Running a brisk 97-minutes the film unfolds its narrative as part mystery, part crime thriller, and part anthropological comedy that all manages to work as one engrossing story. El Silbo, the whistling version of Spanish, that stemmed from bird calls in the Canary Island of La Gomera (hence its titles), is such a unique hook for a story. Though used throughout, it never becomes a crutch Porumboiu’s relies on.  

Part of the joy in any Crime Thriller is watching the shell game unfold.  The Whistlers/La Gomera understands this better than any recent entry of its genre.  Bold enough to telegraph its story beats well in advance only to skew conventions it set up.  The Whistlers/La Gomera rewards its viewer with knowledge of the genre, even without viewers will find themselves hooked in its masterful narrative.  

The Whistlers/La Gomera continues 2020’s surprising wealth of good filmmaking early in the year.  One will be hard-pressed to find a crime film more accomplished or entertaining this year.

The Whistlers/La Gomera is in Theaters February 28th

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