Director: Larysa Kondracki
Screenwriter: Larysa Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan
Nicolaj Lie Kaas
Runtime: 112 mins.
Australian release date: 29 September 2011
The Whistleblower is a taut, political thriller based on an actual story and directed by Larysa Kondracki. It is the director’s feature debut and a worthy one at that; she also co-wrote the screenplay, in collaboration with Irish writer Eilis Kirwan. The script is driven by an extremely strong female character, a real-life heroine, Kathyrn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), who is a bit of a battler, a Nebraskan cop who takes a well-paid peace-keeping job for the UN in Bosnia. Why? Well, because like many divorced women who are left to fend for themselves, she is desperately trying to maintain a relationship with her estranged daughter. This means saving up enough money to join her in another US state.
This is post-war Bosnia, a place which reeks of corruption and is controlled by a number of private peace-keeping companies and the UN, who are responsible for restoring law and order. Kathyrn begins to notice that not all is as it should be and uncovers a situation which is dangerous and quite frankly, nauseating - a human sex trafficking industry which appears to protect the perpetrators with diplomatic immunity, a policy dictated by the UN. As Kathryn delves deeper into the world of trafficking, her position becomes a threat to the face of the re-building project in Bosnia.
Weisz is believable as the tough but rather fragile-looking cop who is battling against all odds and is up against a very ruthless machine. In fact, there are few likeable male characters in the film, although the writers balance the machismo with the role of the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave). Redgrave gives a strong, mannered performance and provides the voice of reason in an increasingly insane situation. Monica Bellucci plays Laura Leviani - the brittle head of an NGO (non-profit organisation), who represents the bureaucracy that Kathryn is up against - in an against-type role that casts her in an unattractive light.
Written by women and told from a female perspective, The Whistleblower is a film not to be missed by either gender. It exposes the harsh realities of a war which was as secretive as its aftermath. Be warned, there are some pretty harrowing scenes which make for uncomfortable viewing. However, I strongly recommend you put yourself through it as the facts are astonishing and it reveals how the powers that be have a lot to answer for.