The Whistleblower

26 Feb

Director:Larysa Kondracki

Writers:Larysa Kondracki, Eilis Kirwan

Stars:Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci and Vanessa Redgrave

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 112 minutes



Predicting the popularity of a film is a difficult task. The screenwriter William Goldman always stood by his often quoted phrase ‘nobody knows anything’ when discussing the genesis of films good and bad. I returned to this theme on watching The Whistleblower as it is an excellent film, but one that I had not heard of before and missed at the cinema (if indeed it ever got a UK theatrical release). The acting, especially from Rachel Weisz, is powerful and the story moving. It should have gained attention if not box office profit, but somehow appears to have achieved neither.

Weisz plays Kathryn Bolkovac, a US police officer that joins the UN peacekeeping mission in post-war Bosnia in 1999. She is there for the money as one of many security contractors. The country is in a poor state and ethnic divides are still tangible. It is clear that the UN and the various sets of private contractors on the ground have their work cut out to help ‘transition’ Bosnia to a peaceful and democratic endgame. Within the chaos criminality is rampant and Bolkovac starts to piece together a sex-trafficking conspiracy.

This film is based on actual events and that makes the harrowing storyline more impactful. The scale of the trafficking business and the inhumanity on display are hard to stomach. There are some particularly tough scenes, but none of them tip over the edge and sadly the miserable plight of the trafficked women does not seem unrealistic. We know from Iraq and Afghanistan that private contractors in a chaotic country, and with immunity to prosecution, can lose their moral compass and abuse those that they are supposed to protect. This is a low budget film with a big message that it delivers strongly. It is not easy to watch at times, but it deserves a bigger audience that it has obtained thus far.

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