Romania | France | Germany 2019
Opening February 13, 2020
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Writing credits: Corneliu Porumboiu
Principal actors: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Sabin Tambrea, Antonio Buil, Julieta Szonyi
Cristi (Vlad Ivanov), a policeman from Bucharest, Romania, goes to La Gomera, which belongs to the Canary Islands. He is following Gilda (Catrinel Maron), a beautiful woman who captured his emotions in a one-nightstand. This connection leads him to become involved with Paco (Agusti Villaronga), the head of the mafia, as well as Zsolt (Sabin Tambrea), a factory owner, who is sitting in prison after having hidden 30 million euros, which the mafia wants. While Christi cooperates with gangsters, he does not realize that his boss Magda (Rodica Lazar) has set up a team to observe his every move. Thus, we have high action with kidnapping, murder, drugs, empowerment, family connections and love. But most important: Cristi learns the Silbo language, which is Spanish for “to whistle.” He hopes to be able to communicate in such a way as to discover the hidden hoard of money.
Throughout the film I often asked myself who is working with whom? Which side is anyone on? Characters change loyalties in order to achieve goals. There is fast-moving action which can compete satisfactorily with any gangster movie fan’s expectations, all by excellent actors from Romania. However, the real merit, and the best reason to see La Gomera, is the whistle language El Silbo. It is amazing to watch people communicate, even across valleys miles away. Christi stands outside the prison and easily communicates with a prisoner in El Silbo; It’s loud, easy to hear, and others cannot understand what is being said. El Silbo was once in danger of disappearing from the island and is now taught in all schools in La Gomera. It is one of 70 whistle languages in the world, protected under the United Nations cultural heritage. See this film simply to hear El Silbo. (Becky T.)