January 20, 2012

Filthy Review - The Whistleblower

The Whistleblower (2010)

Review by Jude Felton

The Whistleblower, which is directed by first time director Larysa Kondracki, is a thriller that is prefaced by the line “inspired by a true story”. To me that means that they have taken the bare bones of a story and then chopped and changed facts to suit the medium of film and to make a more entertaining movie. Regardless, however much of this 2010 film is fact and how much is fiction I do not know. What I do know though is that it was an entertaining film to watch, even if the subject matter, and its depiction, is a little tough to watch at times.

The story which is set in 1999 follows Kathryn Bolkovac, a cop from Nebraska, who is seeking out a transfer in order to be closer to her daughter, with whom her ex-husband has custody. In a strange turn of events she ends up going further away from her, much further. The reason behind this is that Kathryn accepts a $100,000 pay day to go to post-war Bosnia to serve as a UN Peacekeeper. She see’s this as a means to an end, and a chance to be able to afford the move without the transfer.

Upon arriving in Bosnia she is soon transferred to the Gender Office. This department deals in sex crimes and it isn’t too long before she is encounters too young girls; Raya and Luba. Kathryn’s encounter with the two girls leads her to discover a wide-scale sex trafficking operation that runs far deeper than just the country’s war weary natives. Kathryn makes it her mission to blow the whistle on these crimes, regardless of the dangers to herself.

On a technical level The Whistleblower is a well-made and gritty film. Kondracki doesn’t flinch away from the subject matter, and some scenes are incredibly tough to watch. That being said, the focus of the film is very much Kathryn, who is played excellently by Rachel Weisz, and her mission, which subsequently takes the focus away from the victims of the crimes.

There are also good supporting roles by Vanessa Redgrave and Monica Belucci, but far more integral to the plot is a small turn by the ever impressive David Strathairn. In fact the entire cast all do a good job, even when some fall into stereotypical roles and characters.

On the negative side, and this was brought more into focus following a discussion about the film (and this is a film that warrants discussion), is that you would be lead to believe that the horrors of war, and its victims, are all perpetrated by sexy, good-looking folk. This isn’t just a fault of The Whistleblower, as many films and shows are guilty of this, but when dealing with war, its aftermath and crimes as heinous as these, you need to strip away any superfluous gloss and deal with it on a strictly human level.

Overall though I was gripped by the movie and frustrated by the events in equal measures. As I have mentioned before when reviewing other films based on true stories, watch this as a piece of entertainment and you will find a good movie. Don’t watch it as a piece of historical fact; the “inspired by” preface should be warning enough.

The  Whistleblower is a good thriller that takes a serious subject and brings focus to it. That in itself is a good thing, even if the execution is sometimes a little off.

The Whistleblower is released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 24th from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

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