Reviewed by: Julia Webster
the real Kathryn Bolkovac
prostitute, prostitution, brothels
sex traffic, trafficking, selling sex slaves
United Nations (U.N.) Mission peace keeping force, peacekeepers
quest for justice in the face of a truth no one wants exposed
CONSPIRACY, CORRUPTION—organizations facilitating the very crimes they were created to stop
|Featuring:||Rachel Weisz … Kathryn Bolkovac
Monica Bellucci … Laura Levin
David Strathairn … Peter Ward
Vanessa Redgrave … Madeleine Rees
Benedict Cumberbatch … Nick Phillips
|Producer:||First Generation Films
|Distributor:||Samuel Goldwyn Films|
“Nothing is more dangerous than the truth.”
“May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” —2 Samuel 3:39
American movie-goers are becoming more and more desensitized to the brutality and violence often depicted in the films we see. Even movies that are “based on actual events,” like “Slumdog Millionaire,” “City of God,” and others, are pretty horrifying. Though such films are always interesting and can help to shed light on events happening around the world, do we really want to subject ourselves to views of such debased human behavior?
“The Whistleblower” is another movie with a “real” story to tell. It centers on a group of young women in Eastern Europe who are being subjected to sexual slavery. As such, the film contains a lot of monstrous and graphic scenes of sex, nudity, violence, torture, and murder. The fact that all of these things are happening to young ladies, just adds to the repugnance of the film.
Rachel Weisz (with an excellent performance) portrays real-life Nebraska policewoman, Kathryn Bolkovac, who travels to Bosnia as a United Nations peacekeeper. As part of her job in the departments of “gender affairs” and “repatriation,” Kathryn investigates the plight of two young women who have recently escaped a gang of human traffickers. She encourages the girls to testify against their captors, promising to protect them from further abuse. Kathryn has good intentions, but finds herself battling a net of corruption and cover-up by the upper-echelons of the U.N. Forces, as well as the independent contractors working in the country.
Aided by Internal Affairs advocates (played aptly by Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn), Kathryn fights to make the brutal truth known, in order to bring the criminals, many of whom have diplomatic immunity, to justice. As the plot twists and turns, it is obvious Kathryn doesn’t know whom she can trust. In the end, it becomes clear that promises can only truly be kept by God (Numbers 23:19).
The suspense and excitement in the film are very real, though the story can be hard to follow. The dark lighting makes the plethora of different characters often indistinguishable from one another. The portrayal of fear by all the prisoners is palpable, as they suffer abuse from the evildoers. One can only hope the victims will find the victory, freedom, and strength that inspired David to write the 23rd Psalm, as well as many of the other psalms.
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
As can be expected, vulgar language, smoking, excessive drinking, and other immoral behaviors are pervasive throughout the film. Graphic images of women being brutalized, tortured, and murdered are an unavoidable part of the story. Though “The Whistleblower” is, in general, well-made, I would strongly suggest avoiding it.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
“…Rachel Weisz… Her performance in ‘The Whistleblower’ elevates her into the Oscar-worthy ranks of Norma Rae, Karen Silkwood and Erin Brockovich—a real-life crusader who steps outside her comfort zone to do the right thing, whatever the cost.”
—Jennie Punter, The Globe and Mail
“…isn’t as gripping as it could have been, that’s no fault of Weisz’s: She gives a bracing, wholly connected performance as the real-life Kathryn Bolkovac. … she’s absolutely believable…”
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
“To the short list of this year’s must-see movies, quickly add ‘The Whistleblower’… Rachel Weisz delivers a powerhouse performance…”
—Rex Reed, The New York Observer
“…it all feels laid on a bit thick. … excessive earnestness… too well-intentioned for its own good. …”
—Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
“……uneven… Kondracki’s direction fizzles. …Because of the abrupt tonal shifts, Kondracki does not maintain momentum. Despite this, Weisz does. …”
—Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“…an important story that fails to find the drama… That you leave the film with nagging doubts and questions is not a problem. That you leave it with a sense of disappointment, however, is.”
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)