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Silviu, a young man who has spent years in a youth penitentiary, is granted release. Before he can leave, his mother returns to Romania to bring his little brother to Italy with her, despite Silviu's objections. He meets a young woman, Ana, who is working on a research project in the prison, and becomes interested in her. In his desperation Silviu resorts to violence, and Ana becomes his hostage. Written by
Peter Brandt Nielsen
Sadly, only a few savvy reviewers seem to have gotten the point in, If I Want To Whistle I Whistle. Rather than what it is about, this film is not about many things: it is not a film about Romania, about prisons, about troubled youth, nor about prison breaks (and certainly not about 'Prison Brake', as the nitwit who only saw the trailer put it).
This is simply a film about an individual's highly charged personal drama. It's a story that could happen anywhere on earth to anybody at all. I knew it would be good when in the first two minutes I got that churning feeling in my gut that something just wasn't right.
Despite the prison setting, the inmates don't really seem to have the sort of animosity towards one another as one sees in all American prison movies. The guards, too, seem to be easy going, chatting rather casually with the prisoners who are working outdoors and making the best of it by singing and carrying on some light banter. And yet, the tension is somehow palpable. I don't know why anybody would complain about the pacing here. It makes no pretense to being an action film, and for the story it's telling, the pacing is spot on.
There is an intense focus on Silviu, the protagonist, who learns from his younger brother that their mother has arrived to take him back to Italy with her a week before Silviu is due to be released. In fact this is the basic premise of the movie, and even before I started it I expected that it would likely end up being rather flat and uninteresting. I mostly felt obliged by the number of nods Romanian films have gotten lately at International Festivals (including this one, in Berlin). I made the right choice.
This is a Drama in the real sense of the word; an examination of raw emotions that surround one's personal microcosm and all the things, little and small, that those around you may know about but can't possibly understand. The director manages to put the audience in Silviu's shoes every step of the way. You feel for him, you question him, and the whole time the tension mounts as you're wondering how it's all going to end up.
There is no reason to post any spoilers here, more detail will take away from the experience should you choose to watch it. I commend the actors who were brilliant, particularly George Pistereanu's, Silviu, but also the Director, Florin Serban, for his vision and the crew who took part in the production. While it's not the glossy type of film Hollywood's gotten us used to, it's very obvious that a lot of thought went into making it and that's why I rate it as highly as I do. 9/10
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