Film: The Whistleblower
Cast includes: Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener), Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), David Stratharin (Good Night, and Good Luck.)
Director: Larysa Kondracki (first feature film)
Genre: Thriller/Drama based on historic events (2010)
In brief: Is Kathryn Bolkovac married to her job? She doesn’t want to be, but she’s a dedicated police investigator in Lincoln Nebraska who needs to change a few things in her life. So she agrees to take a 6-month assignment in Bosnia, working as a monitor for the UN. Sarajevo isn’t going to be easy duty… “smoothing the transition from war to peace.” When a Muslim woman is severely beaten by her husband, Kathryn is told not to get involved, but she can’t just walk away. So she works with the prosecutor, using investigation methods she learned on the police force to help develop a case. And it leads to the first conviction ever for domestic violence in Bosnia.
That’s why Kathryn’s a good choice to head the Office for Gender Affairs. Almost immediately, Kathryn finds herself on a raid of the Florida Bar. When 9 girls are taken away, Kathryn stays behind to examine the scene. The photographs and physical evidence she finds give her a sick feeling. There’s something really bad going on here, and there’s little attempt to hide it. Back at headquarters, she tries to talk with Raya, a young woman whose been beaten to within an inch of her life. But Raya is so scared she won’t talk. These aren’t local girls. They’ve been abducted and sold in a massive human trafficking operation. It’s not so hard to work out that part, but doing something about it is an entirely different matter.
As Kathryn learns, international personnel have immunity and can’t be prosecuted. But Kathryn can’t just turn her back on the girls, who are basically slaves. Unlike a fictionalized suspense thriller, a truly feel-good ending isn’t in the cards. But that said, Kathryn does manage to blow a big hole in the massive cover-up that’s been going on. If you find movie violence upsetting, you should skip this film. While the violence isn’t as graphic as in some films, it’s very disturbing because it feels so real. Given the restraints of working with a true story, the filmmakers have developed an excellent, suspenseful narrative. By the end of the film, it seems pretty ironic, thinking back to the pep talk that Kathryn got at the beginning of her tour of duty… “peacekeepers representing a beacon of hope in Bosnia.” Wow.
3 popped kernels
Suspenseful and disturbing drama, based on actual events
Primary Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & thought provoking