Cuban film director Fernando Pérez was inspired to make Life Is to Whistle by the work of modernist painter René Magritte, in whose work "reality does not stop being reality, but is, at once, another reality." Magritte's paintings have been described as "elaborate fantasies constructed around commonplace situations." Life Is to Whistle is an energetic look at commonplace situations in Havana, where economic life remains difficult but where dream life is open to another reality, perhaps one that is guided by a divine hand.
Whether or not God plays a role in Pérez's vision, the film has a large role for an angel-like, wisdom-dispensing taxi driver who appears when needed and seems to know which strangers need to meet each other. To two of his passengers, the driver observes, in Magritte style: "Life is what happens to you while you are busy doing other things" (a line from John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy").