The Whistleblower: movie review
An exposé that sometimes overdramatizes, 'The Whistleblower' takes on sex trafficker in postwar Bosnia and official collusion.
In the 1970s, both in America and overseas, socially conscious thrillers were an accepted movie genre. Not so much anymore. “The Whistleblower,” starring Rachel Weisz, is an attempted throwback to movies like “Z” and “Three Days of the Condor” – thrillers with smarts and “something to say.”Skip to next paragraph
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There are two ways to critically approach “The Whistleblower.” Does it serve a social good, and is it a good film?
The answer to the first question is, yes. Set in 1999, this film about sex trafficking in postwar Bosnia rekindles a true story too little publicized in America (though not in Europe). I only wish the film itself were sharper. It’s an ambitious movie by a first-time director, Larysa Kondracki, and clearly she has taken on more than she can handle. This is certainly not the worst of crimes, but too often she resorts to melodrama when the story cries out for drama.
Weisz, whose fierce performance here echoes her work as the anti-Big Pharma crusader in “The Constant Gardener,” is reason enough to see the film. She plays Kathyrn Bolkovac, a real-life cop from Lincoln, Neb., and a single mother whose ex-husband has retained custody of their daughter. Because she wants to move closer to her daughter, Bolkovac accepts a $100,000 one-year tax-free contract as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. She ends up extending her stay by heading up the United Nations gender office dealing in sexual assault violations.
While on the job she uncovers a network of corruption including not only local bar owners trafficking women but also UN colleagues who are both abetters and clients. Since UN workers are given diplomatic immunity, and since the head of the repatriation program (Monica Bellucci) is resolutely unhelpful, Bolkovac must essentially go it alone.