Whistle and I’ll Come to You

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Without a voiceover track Whistle and I’ll Come to You is a series of discrete actions presenting what its narration on paper would describe exactly, meaning that it is a lot like a mundane realist silent film where scenes cut to scenes with no apparent logic or semblance of narrative progress. Adding to this, scenes open with actions such as making the bed or eating, and they only end when the bed has been made or the food has been finished. It is sort of like the La Monte Young piece where a butterfly is set loose in the room and the musical performers finish the performance when it decides to leave, but rather than an organic indeterminacy, it feels like we are perpetually waiting for the action to stop so we can get closer to finding meaning within the film. Michael Hordern plays Professor Parkin less like an intellectual caricature as critics argue, but like a soon to be madman with his intellect in a state of collapse. He builds a wall around himself with unintelligible ramblings and when he is confronted with having to talk to another human being it is like he is shambling through his brain’s dusty library trying to find the right tattered document with which to respond. It is actually painful. In the Romantic tradition the mad inhabit rational and non-rational worlds simultaneously, and Whistle and I’ll Come to You uneasily navigates different spaces of isolation, unease, and encounter- the hotel, the beach, the graveyard. These sites and the objects found within them are topochrons, containing multiple time-periods all at once. The near-madman Parkin stumbles like a reckless child through these areas, and emerges not covered in spiderwebs but ghosts from malicious and uncertain histories. The film’s stuffy formalism is constantly undone by its lack of clarity with regard to the significance of the content of its stuffy formalism, like a mathematician writing their formulae immaculately in the sand as the tide draws near. All of its polarities are upset, not in order to draw us in and make something real, but to keep us at a curious distance. It has this polite British quality that makes its madness all the more inscrutable. Something in it lingers there after the film finishes, suggesting we think about it some more, if we have the time of course. This mundane yet otherworldly quality results in something remotely, impossibly nostalgic, as though something in us read it or dreamt it or watched it once well before we were born, something left over from somewhere else.

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