The basic premise trades in the kind of casual absurdism that’s by now expected of Porumboiu. More surprising is the fact that The Whistlers plays much like a standard policier—a relatively by-the-book offering from a director who has distinguished himself by a willingness to throw out the manual.
While it’s tempting to view these histrionics as dramatic fabrications, almost everything that unfolds was captured on video recordings of the actual trial, and lifted from official testimony transcripts. Nonetheless, Bellocchio doesn’t resist the opportunity to ham up the fracas an extra notch or two, to discombobulating effect.
Trouble has emerged at a particularly critical point for Northern Ireland, where violent sectarian tensions have been reinvigorated with the uncertainty spawned by Brexit. What Garnett’s film contributes is an acceptance of profound complexity in the face of belligerent binaries.
Fire Will Come, with its single location and small cast, is a more focused work than Mimosas, but maintains a similar sense of possibility as the earlier film, of things unknowable to the viewer. What’s really important may be happening somewhere outside of the frame.
In adapting London’s novel, Marcello and his screenwriting partner Maurizio Braucci have transposed Eden’s story from turn-of-the-century Oakland to the coast of Naples, but they’ve also left the question of when intentionally unresolved, indeterminate.
Lest his film be charged with trafficking in the same philistine stuff as pornography, Serra rarely, if ever, allows his erotica to be, well, erotic. Not as well versed in the art of the exaggerated orgasm as adult-film actors, his nonprofessionals are awkward and imprecise.