Romanian film review: Breaking Free- If I want to whistle, I whistle


The film community is going mad with excitement these days, counting the days until the new year finally kicks off. Because the new year does not start in January for film-crazy people (be it industry professionals or any film junkie out there) but in February, with the Berlin Film Festival, lovingly called Berlinale. And this time there is a Romanian feature in the International Competition. Before Călin Peter Netzer’s Poziţia copilului/Child’s Pose  hits the screens in Berlin and Bucharest, let’s take a look at previous Romanian film, which was one of the festival’s highlights, the 2010 drama Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier/ If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle. Don’t let the awkward title put you off, this is one of the most thrilling films to come out in recent years.

Silviu, a teenage convict who is serving the end of his four-year sentence, has a young brother to whom he is eager to return and a mother working in Italy. When she comes back unexpectedly and threatens to take the younger son with her back to Italy, Silviu is forced to act. The drama really gets going when a group of students come to interview the inmates for their psychology studies. The passionate Silviu is immediately smitten with Ana and the events following will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Florin Şerban is a young filmmaker who did his film studies in both Romania and the US, which this pic definitely reflects, being a stylish thriller but embedded into an unmistakably Romanian reality. The story itself is rather simple and as it is often the case with ‘simple’ stories done right, it carries a massive emotional punch. The most remarkable thing about the film is its impressive acting: George Piştereanu’s debut as Silviu is intense while more experienced actors are also spot-on, especially the wonderful Clara Vodă as the boy’s irresponsible mother. Silviu’s inmates are played by non-professionals and partially real-life convicts and this brilliant casting choice makes for raw and powerful acting.

The director can only be admired for his mature handling of social issues and his realistic, non-judgmental and courageous look at familial and ethnic tensions. As the same time it is a film with great cinematic pleasures that will leave you thinking for days. Mr Şerban is most certainly one to keep an eye on.

The English subtitled film can be found at the Cărtureşti stores and, of course, at their online store. 

And have a look at the intense trailer below.

By Ioana Moldovan, Guest Writer, ioana.moldova[email protected]