Monday, 21 May 2012

If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.

George Pistereau as Silviu.

Silviu, a young delinquent is about to be released from a young offenders institution located somewhere in the Rumanian countryside. Two things shape the last weeks of his detention. Firstly he discovers that his estranged mother has returned after eight years absence and intends to take his younger brother Marius, who he brought up single handily before his four-year prison sentence, back to Italy with her. The second is when an attractive young lady turns up at the prison to interview him for a sociology project as part of his release programme. Both these incidents combine to incite our naive young delinquent to act in a manner that will certainly affect his immediate prospects and more than likely the remainder of his life.

Ada Condeescu as Ana.
The tone of If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (2010) brings to mind the grittiness and reality of the BBC’s original Play for Today format and the films of the British New Wave. This is underlined by the hand held camera work of Marius Panduru and using actual inmates via a drama workshop, who had to be transported under guard to the film set, played many of the supporting roles. Even the charismatic George Pistereanu had very little acting experience before he played the main character.  This casting adds greatly to the authentic feel of the threat of  violence that hangs over the movie, something that keeps you on tender hooks throughout the film.

Perhaps not quite up to the standard of Jacques Audiard award winning French prison drama A Prophet (2009) but certainly the equal of the Danish prison drama R (2010). Director Florin Serban’s film deservedly won a Silver Bear Grand Jury Award at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. This is the sort of film that remains in your consciousness long after the closing credits .You may not come out of the cinema with a grin across your face but it’s a movie you will appreciate far more than the fantasy world of bringing fish to the desert or old people retiring to a sanitised India.  That’s not to say I have anything against a good fantasy film’s my problem is when they masquerade as something more and are not.

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