DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
IF I WANT TO WHISTLE, I WHISTLE (EU CAND VREAU SA FLUIER, FLUIER) (director/writer: Florin Serban; screenwriters: Catalin Mitulescu/from the play Eu cand vreau sa fluier, fluier by Andreea Valean; cinematographer: Marius Panduru; editors: Sorin Baican/Catalin Mitulescu; cast: George Pistereanu (Chiscan Silviu), Ada Condeescu (Ana), Clara Voda (Mother), Mihai Constantin (warden), Marian Bratu (Marius, the Brother), Chilibar Papan (Ursu); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Catalin and Daniel Mitulescu; Film Movement; 2010-Romania-in Romanian with English subtitles)

 
"Brings us old news that criminals come from dysfunctional family backgrounds and bad environments, and makes it seem as if the filmmaker just got the message and can't wait to tell the world the hot news."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

New Wave Romanian filmmaker Florin Serban's first feature is a watchable but thin arthouse juvenile prison drama that brings us old news that criminals come from dysfunctional family backgrounds and bad environments, and makes it seem as if the filmmaker just got the message and can't wait to tell the world the hot news. It's based on the play Eu cand vreau sa fluier, fluier by Andreea Valean and is written by Catalin Mitulescu. Many of the cast members are actual inmates, who enact the prison routine with conviction and help give the low-budget film its realistic look.

Chiscan Silviu (George Pistereanu, nonprofessional actor) is an intense, charismatic and strapping 18-year-old inmate, who after a four-year sentence is two weeks away from release at a rural juvenile detention center. All he has to do is keep his nose clean (not that easy in a place where guards are hostile, the warden (Mihai Constantin) is a nice man but not up to speed on the job and the inmates are bullying). A visit by his younger brother Marius (Marian Bratu) telling him that his uncaring mom (Clara Voda), who long ago abandoned the family, has returned and intends to take Marius to Italy with her, sets Silviu off. Silviu doesn't want his brother's life ruined like his was by bad parenting, as he had no chance finding his own way to a regular life under the supervision of his selfish mom. Silviu aims to raise the kid, like he did before he was jailed.

When unable to go home before his release date to confront mom and unable to think straight, the inarticulate volatile Silviu takes a pretty college student he's attracted to named Ana (Ada Condeescu) hostage by holding a shard to her neck. She's a social worker trainee in the prison to do field work prerelease interviews for her sociology class. Silviu demands the warden call his mother and to tell her to come to the prison, or else he threatens to kill the girl and himself. The dangerous youth has already struck her teacher and knocked the guard unconscious by slamming a chair over his head. Mom comes and he makes her swear to not take the younger brother with her (mom has work as a hotel receptionist in Italy, a work opportunity not available back home). Meanwhile the familiar movie hostage scenario is played out, as that life threatening action scene raises the level of tension but takes away from the pic's more successful quiet moments and its natural rawness. It now leaves us with a pathetic monstrous antihero we can no longer sympathize with except on a theoretical basis, and the pic suddenly looks as flat as so many other youth prison pics.

In the end, we observe the penal system doesn't work and once incarcerated there's very little hope of the youth's escape or release to a better life.

It was the winner of the best Romanian film of the Transylvania International Film Festival and also won the top Silver Bear prize at the Berlin Festival of 2010.

REVIEWED ON 5/25/2011       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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