Reviews for January 5th, 2011
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle
Directed by Florin Serban
Silviu (George Pistereanu) has merely two weeks left before heís going to be released from a juvenile detention center in Romania. His mother (Clara Voda) arrives during visiting hours and informs him that sheíll be moving away to Italy with his younger brother (Marian Bratu) to start a new life. Silviu feels viscerally displeased about this news because heís always considered his mother to have poor parental skills which led him into a life of delinquency. He essentially blames her for his status quo and refuses to let his younger brother follow that same path by continuing to live with her. In a rather contrived subplot, Silviu develops a crush on a young woman, Ana (Ada Condeescu), who works as a social worker at the detention center. She appears to have feelings for him as well whenever they cross paths with one another. The plot suddenly veers into thriller territory when Silviu takes Ana hostage in an attempt to get his mother to arrive to promise him that she wonít take his younger brother with him to Italy. Writer/director Florin Serban together with co-writer Catalin Mitulescu take so long to reach to that pivotal point in the narrative, so the scenes depicting Silviuís day-to-day life in the detention center feel rather tedious and a bit dull. What does Ana see in Silviu that makes her flirt back to him? Is she just attracted to him on a physical level, perhaps? It seems more like a plot device rather than something truly believable and organic. The same can be said about the intense third act because you never really get a chance to get to know Silviu enough to grasp everything that heís thinking and feeling during the entire hostage ordeal. You wonít find yourself caring whether or not he successfully escapes with Ana, gets captured or ends up killed. On a positive note, the non-professional cast that Serban assembles here is quite superb and adds some realism, especially when it comes to George Pistereanuís raw performance. The scenes in the detention center have so many intricate details that reflect the fact that Serban and his crew did a lot of research in actual detention centers to make those scenes feel authentic. If only he were able to make those scenes entertaining, though. At a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle is a well-acted albeit dull prison drama thatís often tedious before it kicks into thriller mode too late in game.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3 Opens at the Film Forum.Released by Film Movement.
Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
Directed by Florin Serban
Number of times I checked my watch: 1 Opens at the IFC Film Center.Released by First Run Features.