If I want to whistle, I whistle
Director: Florin Serban
After living for two months in insolation to understand jailbirds and their psychology, Serban has successfully managed to get into the skin and spine of the prisoners well.
The fact that the film has been derived from a play, does not cause much harm to the original script.
As the title, If I Want To Whistle I Whistle, meticulously justifies the story by showing the main lead, Silviu, as a character who does what he feels like in life, in spite of living in a jail where he is bound by rules.
The story is of a young delinquent, who is about to get released in a span of a few days after his long haul in a reformatory. The director has wonderfully shown Silviu’s love Silviu for his family. There is so much of anger and vengeance in little Silviu’s mind that the audience can actually feel bad for Silviu.
His desperation to give his brother what he didn’t get is shown when he gets beaten up by other inmates and doesn’t even retaliate simply because he fears and wants nothing to stop him from being set free, and thus he gets beaten up by the other jailbirds. He begs the warden to get a leave for a day in spite of getting warnings from him and goes in the surveillance boundaries and gets beaten up by the officials of the reformatory, just to see who brought his brother to meet him at the jail.
The innocence of Silviu and the jailbirds is shown in the first few scenes itself looking at the bonding and the friendship amongst the jailbirds and when they sing songs for the ones who will be released and even in the scene when he cries after he speaks to his mother and brother over the phone, and when the boys compliment on the lips of Ana, a beautiful young intern working there, and Silviu’s attraction towards her adds a cute angle to his character, and even when he gets into the car with Ana after capturing her as an hostage and the rest of the jailbirds hooting and cheering for him add humor to the story, even the scene during the questionnaire filling with Ana and in the coffee shop when he kisses Ana and the conversation in their silence adds to the innocence of their age.
The intentional handling and shaking of the camera gives good results by making us feel as if we were there amongst them, which is another commendable decision of the director. The beautiful shots taken of the open wide windy road after he is out of the reformatory making the audience also taste what freedom tastes like is well finished.
What wouldn’t digest much with the audience would be the climax where for not much good reason he beat up the people in the interview room and held Ana as a Hostage, well I feel it’s justified if we understand that the frustration in Silviu’s mind was long culminating, and he was going through this phase of mixed emotions where he wanted to be set free desperately so this irrational and erratic behavior is not exactly irrational when we go to see how his patience was tested and exploited several times and how helpless he felt every time about it.
What didn’t go down well with me was the director putting so much of focus on the lead characters’ mental state that he forgot to establish the other characters and the base of the story and their background well and also did not give any past history about them. The story appeared very abrupt and absurd at certain instances and many things were yet left to be justified. For example, when the warden asked him why he wanted a leave instead of explaining the cause Silviu kept repeating the same thing again and again. And thus don’t be surprised if you find a few more such loose ends and ambiguities in the story.
Certain scenes were excessively lengthened and were not really required to be so, specially the climax scene when he holds Ana as a hostage and the fight amongst the inmates. It all could have been cut down short thus reducing the length of the film which would probably become an advantage for the film.
The director has not spoon-fed the audience by showing loud emotions and telling them what to feel, instead he has shown the reality in showing the subtlety of emotions and letting the audience make efforts and discover the variety of emotions it offers, so be ready to make some efforts to relish each emotion.
It could have been made a tad stronger by building each character and giving the detailing more importance, and tightening up the last half an hour of the film. But overall the films leaves you back with a lot more and offers you a slice of jail life.
Thanks to the non-professional cast, many of the jailbirds give fearlessly coarse and realistic performances making the film appear RAW in its true sense.A film must make you grow in some way and I am sure this one will.