Though it’s full of twists and turns, the most shocking thing about the film is that it’s been written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the Romanian deconstructionist behind such exercises in intentional tedium as 12:08: East Of Bucharist and The Treasure.
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What are critics saying?
The Playlist by Bradley Warren
This comedic thriller is witty and diverting without selling out on the Romanian reputation of thoughtful, challenging work.
The Whistlers goes down easy and dissipates soon after the credits roll, but with a murky plot in which the heist in question is often beside the point, the accomplishment of the movie lies within what it says about that agreeable flow.
As a low-key romp with a twisty, globetrotting plot The Whistlers is an enjoyable affair with just enough of a slant to feel a little offbeat. But Porumboiu aficionados chasing the same weird high he has delivered time and again before — wherein a single moment can transform a ridiculous scheme into a fairy tale, or a silly notion into a grand philosophical quest — are just going to have to whistle for it.
Only in certain scenes do story and ideas really mesh
The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin
The script may hum and buzz with twists and require concentration, but that's not exactly the same as being intellectually satisfying and rich the way Porumboiu's earlier work was. They were closer to profound; this is just clever.
The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw
Porumboiu gives us a knotty, twisty, nifty plot that’s quite involved but hangs together well, and there’s an amusing juxtaposition of gloomy, rainy Bucharest and the sunny terrain of La Gomera. We also get a neat and unexpected coda.
The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor
To its detriment, this has the feel of a film that has been constructed in service of one absurd idea.
The Whistlers is no minimalist slice of realism, but an oversized, deliciously twisted ride that runs on an endless supply of black humor and a sizeable body count. You won’t laugh much while you’re watching it, but it’s a hoot nonetheless.
It’s the kind of filmmaking with rich confidence in its own professionalism, like a hired assassin purring with his own satisfaction after a devious, trace-free job.