In the politically and graphically charged drama The Whistleblower, director Larysa Kondracki and Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz depict the real-life-story of whistle-blower Kathryn Bolkovac, an American peacekeeper whose relocation to Bosnia lands her in the middle of a U.N. sex scandal. Gritty and merciless, audiences should be warned that the amount of violence and obscenity in the film could prove outright offensive.
We are introduced to Bolkovac as a tough minded cop, which is a good thing since she is one of the lone women on the force. A divorced mother, it is questionable to see why her teenage daughter lives with her father and new girlfriend, which may indicate that her dedication to her occupation has proved that she has a lifestyle and outlook that rivals most conventions. And when the family relocates out of the country, Bolkovac decides to take an opportunity working as part of law enforcement in Bosnia, which will gain her a passport so that she can visit her daughter. Setting up the character as a determined single mother with a penchant for justice, the story then gains momentum into its plot, where Bolkovac is assigned to the case of finding a missing girl.
When the movie starts getting into explaining its set up, it also shows some very explicit content of human sex trafficking of young women. Operating within the narrative story of a single character working against oppressive forces, we soon realize that the case of the missing girl is apart of a much larger one that involves the local police force and even the U.N. Yet while the scenes of brutality build upon each other to emphasize the forces that claim to stop Bolkovac’s investigation, they also work against the film, as it uses such overtly explicit means of depicting the violent acts. And while the scenes do work as reinforcing the horror of the events, it really just made it obvious that the way that the director was going to win over fans was to simply shock them into numbness, as scenes showing rape, mutilation, and murder are shown in very disturbing fashion.
The casting of Weisz as the lead character seemed to pay off, as the amount of emotional stamina that was required to play the character was performed with a constantly evolving arc. As a strong female officer in a corrupt and dangerous foreign world, Weisz seemed well matched, and believable as a woman who could bring an entire governmental operation to the ground.
While the film may leave audiences informed about one of the greatest human sex trafficking cover ups in history, it will likely have done so at the expense of seeing a very intense disturbing film. Is it worth it? Again, since it was successful in informing people how harsh these real life events were, it might be. But before you see The Whistleblower, be prepared to know that you won’t be escaping into a typically seen crime mystery drama, as this story is one that makes its mark by means of pure shock.