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The previous reviewer obviously didn't know that this is a true story.
The specific victims were fictionalized, but the overall story of what
was happening and what Rachel Wiesz's character went through are true.
They are not a contrived, or "generic" "CSI" story.
That said, as a movie, Whistleblower delivers in telling about this difficultand important event. Some of the scenes were hard to watch, but, as the director mentioned at the Q&A after the screening I saw, it was just scratching the surface of what was going on. Vanessa Redgrave's character, though her scenes were relatively brief, really shined. I appreciated that the cinematography didn't involve any fancy styles or overly dramatic music. The director let the impact of the story itself, and Rachel Wiesz's fine acting, carry the movie.
The vast majority of the time one hears the words 'government contract'
it is safe to assume it is not the best and brightest people who are
volunteering to go for extended periods of time to locales termed war
zones. Sure, there are those altruistic few who take up the charge to
make the world a better place, but routinely, it is just someone
willing to exchange six months of their life in exchange for a juicy
paycheck. The Whistleblower's heroine, Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Wiesz)
is one such person. She was a Nebraska police officer who signed on
with a company called Democra who had a security contract with the
For six months of her time and $100,000, Kathryn was to monitor the local Sarajevo police and advise them on proper police procedures. Very quickly, she discovers the word monitor means turn a blind eye as Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks abuse whatever power they have to continue a sort of undeclared war on each other. The Serb policemen will not investigate or prosecute domestic violence cases, especially if the woman is Muslim. Kathryn successfully leads Bosnia's first case against domestic violence earning her a more visible job as the department head for gender affairs.
Now her scope includes far more than standard local police issues. Young Eastern European and Russian girls are turning up on the streets and shelters looking severely assaulted and sexually abused. To her shock and dismay, Kathryn learns that United Nations employees from all nations are not only the girls' customers, but frequently aid local human traffickers in their transport and have an interest in holding the girls against their will.
Nobody in any position of authority ever raises their hand for a scandal, so all of Kathryn's investigations and findings are swept under the rug and she is ostracized from the rest of her compatriots who are either not interested in obtaining justice for the girls or believe so much in bureaucracy and paperwork that they sometimes send the girls right back to their rapists. On Kathryn's side is the High Commissioner for Human Rights rep played by Vanessa Redgrave and an internal affairs agent played by David Strathairn.
Frequently, the subject matter and scenes of girls undergoing sexual abuse and torture are stomach churning. The film can be relentless at times showing various punishments and cruelty. Human trafficking, especially if it involves a trusted world organization and its sleazy contractors, is an extremely important subject to cover and make films about; therefore, be ready to adjust uncomfortably in your seats as you watch downright disgusting and brutal activities perpetrated against teenage girls.
The Whistleblower deserves applause for bringing to light the company Democra which still carries out government contracts to this day. However, when the film takes a break for showing the girls' plight, it focuses on Kathryn's personal life and back story which are choppy and do not come across as fully thought out. There is her home life back in the states which she left, including her daughter, and an awkward budding romance with a Dutch security contractor. Including romance and relationships in a film with this disturbing subject matter would be tough for any director, and this first time feature director does not quite pull it off.
It will take this reviewer some time to get over some of the images in The Whistleblower; tread at your own risk. But this story deserves to be told and shown in all of its brutality.
So i sat down this evening at a special screening of The Whistleblower,
id seen the trailer and was certainly intrigued as i think Rachel Weisz
is an extremely fine actress, and it reminded me of a similar
Australian film i saw a few years earlier called 'The Jammed'. I was
absolutely floored by this film, so many times i was literally holding
back my anger and my urge to yell at the screen.
The story is a story that has been told somewhat before but none have had Rachel Weisz, she is the pure driving force of this movie, picturing someone else in this role is near impossible. The supporting cast are also stellar, I particularly enjoyed David Strathairn's character, one good guy in the midst of all these corrupt male cops, and the actress who played Raya gave a heartbreaking portrayal of a trapped woman.
The fact that sex trafficking is still a major problem in the world is horrifying, i hope this movie eventually gets a full release in Australia as i think its a film a lot of people should see as sex trafficking is a major problem here.
Be prepared to hold back your rage and frustration....
Come Oscar time i hope Weisz gets the recognition she so rightly deserves.
In one word : Flawless
Sure the production values could have been better, but I am sure this
movie did not have the biggest budget either.
I thought Weisz, Redgrave and Strathairn gave good performances. But,most of all, what I liked was the raw feel of this movie, perhaps due to it's smaller budget, and the fact that it had a very important story to tell (a true story).
I can not comprehend people complaining, in their reviews, regarding the languages spoken. Who cares ? Obviously they cared more about aesthetics than the actual story.
Even with all it's flaws, it is a very entertaining, although sad, movie. It actually prompted me to do some research on DynCorp, KBR and Blackwater , 3 of the security contractors getting billions of $ from our governments while committing countless crimes around the world. So, I guess, in that respect, the movie has worked and got it's point across. Good to see a movie that actually gets your passion and emotions flowing, even if it is outrage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
These days it's become a rarity to find a political thriller that is
intelligent, intense and intriguing. So when one like The Whistleblower
comes along, I find no trouble in treasuring every moment of it. Rachel
Weisz stars as the titular pot-boiler who uncovers a sex trafficking
ring while working as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. Based on a true story,
she turns over some dirty rocks and a lot of people start to get very
angry. This leads to a very tense race to discover the truth and find
someone willing to help her bring down these horrible men before they
get to her. There's a subplot with Monica Bellucci's character that is
a little dull and eventually inconsequential, but when the Weisz side
of things is so gripping, it's easy to look past.
The story here is strong and every moment, especially in the final act, breathes with a wicked intensity that keeps you on your toes, but the real driving force of the film is Weisz. For some reason it seems like it's pretty hard for films to present female characters who are strong and firm in their beliefs without turning them into unbearable stereotypes. This year though we've experienced an influx of great ones that come off as genuine human beings and Weisz's Kathryn Bolkavac is another to add to the list. Especially given the fact that she plays a woman who is being constantly attacked and undermined by everyone around her, a role that opens itself up to melodramatic hysterics pretty easily. Weisz had to hit this balance of strength and broken hopelessness without going too far to make it unrealistic, and she hits every note necessary.
There's one scene later in the film that really stands as a measure to the power of her performance. Bolkavac gets within an inch of freeing these girls and exposing the truth, when out of nowhere the rug is pulled out from under her and things look worse than ever. She bursts into tears, desperate for some way out of this situation; everything she was fighting for was right in her grasp and she just gets it ripped out of her hand like two kids fighting over a toy on Christmas. This moment would have been difficult for most actors, but Weisz has matured into one of our finest performers and she doesn't phase for a second. She could have easily slipped into unintentionally comedic melodrama but instead she brings down the house and almost brought a tear to my eye. It's a devastating moment in one of the strongest, most commanding performances of the year so far. A superb performance in a taut, intelligent thriller.
what is it that makes us human? the thing that separates us from the animals? the whistleblower doesn't answer these questions. in fact it asks the question even more. this movie was hard to watch but also hard not to. Weisz is outstanding as the woman that exposes the men with control and power over their weaker fellow man...or woman in this case. you must watch this movie for the human story. expecting to be "entertained" by drama and the like should not be your goal here, the director has done an excellent job ensuring that. if you want to be entertained then watch transformers... if you're not afraid to be moved by the real events on which this story is based, then this movie is for you.
The Whistleblower is an excellent film, but it left me depressed.
However, its message is undoubtedly important and I think that it
definitely deserves an enthusiastic recommendation, not exactly as an
entertainment, but as a testimony of a horrible situation which is
unfortunately extended all around the world, even though the story from
the film is set in Serbia and Bosnia. Which one of so many possible
atrocities does The Whistleblower deal with? The human trafficking; and
even though it does not offer solutions (probably because they don't
exist), it at least brings us new reasons to feel ashamed of the human
Having established the importance of the message expressed by The Whistleblower, I will proceed to focus myself into its many cinematographic attributes. The screenplay is fascinating, and it kept me in suspense the whole time, because even though it does not have the structure from a traditional thriller, the crusade undertaken by the main character demands a strong emotional response; and as well as we share her hope of a positive solution, we also feel her frustration when she faces the constant obstacles she finds from the mafia, the bureaucracy and even the enslaved young women, who are too scared in order to testify against their captors. The only thing I can say against this film is that the screenplay should have explored a bit more some of the subjects it deals with.
Rachel Weisz brings a great performance in the leading role from The Whistleblower, due to the wide range of emotions she perfectly expresses with her character. Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Roxana Condurache, Paula Schramm and Nicolaj Lie Kass also bring perfect works. So, in conclusion, The Whistleblower is a hard but brilliant movie whose finality is not amusing us for a while, but illustrating us about a sad reality which is lived by millions of people every day. I guess that it is difficult to think about that when we have our own problems (which are undoubtedly minor, even though they affect us daily), but that apathy is exactly what companies like DynCorp need in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the human misery. Even though I think that exactly the same can be said about any government.
While the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia made a lot of news in the
1990s, less well known were the actions of military contractors in the
region. "The Whistleblower" tells the story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a
Nebraska cop who joined a private company to serve as a peace-keeper in
Bosnia, only to discover that the company was complicit in human
The really ugly scenes are when we see what is done to the trafficked girls. It almost seems as though the movie should have focused more on them. But what is equally important to understand is not only the atrocities committed with impunity by private contractors, but the risk that whistleblowers face even today (as shown by the WikiLeaks case).
Either way, this is something that everyone should see to understand the reality behind modern-day mercenary armies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Firstly, I have to say that I was greatly impressed at the quality of
the movie because it was a Canadian production and to be honest, I have
rarely seen us live up to the quality we are capable of achieving.
Rachel Weisz has definitely grown as an actress from her days of doing the Mummy movies. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved her character in those movies but I never would believe she could have the 'chops' to do a movie this intense and carry it off. Kudos to you, Rachel, you were magnificent.
To the reviewer that thought this was some kind of "CSI" movie, I have to agree with another reviewer. OBVIOUSLY, you need to buy a clue and realize that this was not just some fairy tale; it was a very dark, real, portrayal of human trafficking that is going on all around us.
But this movie was more than just a story, it is a report on an INTERNATIONAL organization that is supposed to PROTECT the helpless not only turning a blind eye, but actually becoming INVOLVED in something that 55 years ago, people were being tried and hung for in Nuremburg.
As a resident of Markham, just northeast of Toronto, I had to chuckle when I saw them using Toronto City Hall as the U.N. offices in Bosnia but I'm sure that only Toronto residents would recognize the interior.
Overall, an excellent movie, worthy of many awards and I only hope that many more people will see it and realize how serious a problem we have on our hands. Please do give it a watch. I now find myself having to watch "Taken" because I need something to uplift me a bit and make me think there is someone out there that can do something righteous against these human trafficking scum.
If you only watch one movie this month - this should be the one. Its not perfect in terms of putting a movie together but the glitches are very few. More important is the message and if you are not shocked and deeply troubled about our society after watching it I would be surprised! Human trafficking is something most of us all to readily assume is some minor issue that doesn't happen to those around us or is perpetrated by the supposedly small percentage of 'bad guys' around us. But men typically have a very different mindset about rape to how women view and feel about it - and I personally felt this depiction of the realities of the world we actually live in both horrifying and sadly sickening thanks to a virtually global scale of indifference and lip service! The lack of action on the part of the American bureaucratic system after what was happening was exposed (along with the European governments et al as well) to clean up the contractors and the representatives sent to these destabilised regions, all to well underlines the real attitude to dealing with this epidemic of trafficking, systematic rape and torture. Trafficking is certainly alive and well thanks to that attitude and indifference to deal with this issue (largely by men). The fact that she was unable to obtain work anywhere after this expose all to readily underlines the lack of interest in the private contractors to cleaning up their own operations... Deeply Sickening and Saddening!
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