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The Whistleblower - DVD Review

The Whistleblower

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

RACHEL Weisz’s The Whistleblower is one of those films that’s in danger of becoming criminally underlooked by virtue of the decision to send it straight to DVD in the UK.

A gritty, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller inspired by actual events, it’s a dark, angry piece of filmmaking that features a typically gutsy central performance from the British actress.

But it also shines a light on a harrowing and highly relevant ongoing situation – sex trafficking – without, crucially, being made to feel exploitative or tacky in any way.

Rather, it wears its convictions on its sleeve and while not as showy or flashy, or even as sharply edited as some films, it deserves to find a wide audience who can truly take note of the issues it has to raise.

Weisz plays Kathy Bolkovac, a Nebraskan police officer and twice divorced mother, who takes a job working as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia in the hope of earning enough money to be able to relocate to be nearer her daughter.

Initially showing a commitment to her job that encourages promotion, she begins to ruffle feathers when she uncovers a sex trafficking ring that is financed and supported by members of the Bosnian police force and – more alarmingly – her own NATO colleagues and superiors, placing her career at risk as well as the lives of the various abused women she is trying to help.

Larysa Kondracki’s movie unfolds at a slow, meticulous pace and shows the situation from both the point of view of Bolkovac and one of the victims of the trafficking system.

But while containing several harrowing moments, in which sexual abuse is hinted at, his camera never dwells, opting instead to let the mind do its worst. If anything, it’s an approach that helps lend the film an even bigger punch.

Weisz, too, ensures that her central character maintains a determination and anger that are akin to providing the audience with their eyes and ears, especially when placing herself at risk in a largely male-dominated world, or taking on the powers that be who have no intention of opening themselves up to the kind of controversy and scrutiny that supporting Bolkovac’s cause would bring.

The final moments of the film therefore provide a sobering and daming indictment of the scale of a world-wide problem that only looks set to get worse given the profit margins involved and the reluctance to stand up and put a stop to it.

For those reasons alone, The Whistleblower is worth seeing, but coupled with another memorable central performance from Weisz, as well as brief but notable support from the likes of the little known Roxana Condurache and the higher profile Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn and Monica Bellucci, this is worthwhile viewing for anyone who has their eye on current events.

It may not always be an easy watch but it leaves a lasting memory for some time afterwards.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 107mins
UK DVD Release: January 16, 2012