By Mónica Delgado
Mafias, narcs, a femme fatale, a corrupt policeman, a search for the booty and a paradisiac scenario as classic elements of a police movie or thriller, transformed by Corneliu Porumboiu with a peculiar style and sense of humor. Divided in acts, named by different characters’ names, La Gomera shows two things: a master of cinema in directing and an affirmation that Romanian cinema can go beyond its social realism.
La Gomera starts with the lead character, a policeman in a mission, played by the actor Vlad Ivanov, crossing the sea in a ferry at the rate of Iggy Pop’s The Passenger. The song gives an automatic biography to the character, whom we see imperturbable in a criminal situation, which Proumboiu sets like a puzzle, with temporal games and with absurdist dialogues, which little by little unveil the nature of the criminal organization (lead by a gangster played by the well-known Spanish filmmaker Agusti Villaronga).
But this fusion made by the director of Police, Adjetive makes the thriller, police movie and comedy to depend on the rhetoric of of the whistle, which in La Gomera, a zone in the Canary Islands, is usual, and which in the film becomes a capital motive, which unites or separates characters. About this point, Porumboiu has said that the idea of the film started precisely because of some news he saw about the importance and validity of whistling in the community of La Gomera, and with that surged the idea of making a film which will take into account this way of non-verbal communication (something which generates some of the most funny moments of the film).
Talking about La Gomera only from its criminal plot is to reduce it and living aside a very colorful visual experience, of neon lights and swimming pools at dawn. Porumboiu delivers with this his most refined work, with a remarkable puzzle-like staging, art direction and actors’ direction (hand in hand with his wife Arantxa Etchevarría Prumboiu) unprecedented in his cinema. And the quotes and cinephile winks (the Psycho one being the most evident) slowly turn La Gomera (or The Whistlers) in one of the favorites, at least for us, for the biggest award in this festival.
Directing and script: Corneliu Porumboiu
Cinematography: Tudor Mircea
Cast: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Sabin Tambrea, Agusti Villaronga
Production companies: Coproducción Rumanía-Francia-Alemania; 42 Km Film / Les Films du Worso / Komplizen Film
Romania, 2019, 97 mins