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Film Critics Association 2015 Award for Best Film Journalism

If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle

     Florin Serban has made a successful feature debut, but he was also lucky from beginning to end, starting with the fact that writer and producer Cătălin Mitulescu thought about him when he sent the script to New York (after giving up the idea of directing himself), and culminating in the quality of films selected in the Berlinale's 2010 Official Competition, which allowed Şerban's film to stand out. If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle is not a masterpiece, but it is an honest film about a world we haven't known, coming to us in genuine colors. The first draft of the script was written by Cătălin Mitulescu, based on Andreea Vălean's play of the same title, and after Şerban joined the project he rewrote it with Mitulescu. From one point of view, Şerban chose the easy way out, but in fact it is not like that at all. There is something adorable in the way he gives credit to the story and to the actors, taking all the risks upon himself with a disarming honesty. He found fourteen inmates in juvenile detention institutions whom he took in his film  at the risk of unpalatable acting flaws far removed from the trained, fluent interpretations professionals could have given. He found his hero George Piştereanu (a true revelation!) among hundreds of youngsters, and he happens to also be an unprofessional, thus risking his entire reputation. He asked DoP Marius Panduru to film the hero from the back, risking accusations that he's an imitator of the Dardennes brothers. And so on. In terms of general style, he even took the risk of being called an epigone of minimalism.
     Şerban doesn't innovate, but he doesn't imitate either and he doesn't seem to give a damn about minimalism or any other isms. If I Want to Whistle... doesn't try to be minimalist or cool or melodramatic, just honest. Its coarseness just removes the clichés like scales from a fish. You understand that Şerban simply looked for the best and most sincere way to tell Silviu's story: the boy spending his last days in prison whose life is blown away by his mother's return from Italy. Because Silviu is boiling behind the taut face and the carefully weighed words, the explosion is inevitable. And because his revolt is not planned the script doesn't feel carefully structured, deepens the feeling that there is something irrational gathering momentum under the unsecurred layers of reality.

(Aperitiff 2010)