The Whistleblower

3 Sep

Title: The Whistleblower
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Larysa Kondracki
Writers: Larysa Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan
Starring: 
Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Strathairn, Monica Bellucci
MPAA Rating: 
R, disturbing violent content including a brutal sexual assault, graphic nudity and language
Runtime: 
112 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
72%

I’m a huge fan of Rachel Weisz, I think she can be seriously tremendous when she wants to, and as such The Whistleblower seemed like a great film to see, one that put her front and center in a rather meaty kind of role I was sure she was definitely capable of rocking. And boy was I right, Ms. Weisz gives a riveting performance here, one of her best ever actually, and she’s the one that elevates the film to whatever heights it ultimately reaches. Though, to be honest, the film itself was probably a bit too straight-forward for my liking, and, good as it may have been, I believe a better approach to this great story could have potentially made her soar even higher.

Because, really, the film’s tone sometimes misses the mark, the human drama that’s beating at its core is sometimes used too much as melodramatic material, and at times it goes off into a very sort of preachy area that just didn’t work for me, and it certainly could have been handled in a better way. But the fact of the matter is that even though The Whistleblower could have probably been a better movie, it still has that undeniably great lead performance to keep it solid, to ground it and not let whatever mishaps may have occurred veer it off the road, and in the end that’s really more than enough, because the film itself is a huge success if only just because of that terrific acting showcase by Ms. Weisz.

The film is based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who agrees to join the U.N. as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. What transpires when she goes there is that she uncovers evidence of a profitable sex trafficking operation involving underage girls that were being bought and sold in the region, and the U.N. was covering it all up, ignoring her when she presented them the evidence. So from a woman who was going into a devastated area to help with the rebuilding of a nation, she gets to be in the middle of a corrupt net full of intrigue and cover-ups happening by the very same multinational she was working for, and as such The Whistleblower becomes this pretty satisfying corporate thriller because of how effectively Ms. Weisz is at playing Kathryn.

So, you see, The Whistleblower is certainly a film that will be able to fill you up with rage over what went on, it’s obviously a pretty incendiary topic that lends itself to a great deal of emotional response that Ms. Weisz is so perfect at conveying with her performance, and as such the gritty backdrop of a post-war Bosnia also serves to give the film a pretty great and compelling feel. The firm responsible for the atrocities in question was a private security firm working there at the time, and that’s apparently still employed by the U.S. government even today, but Kathryn starts discovering that while they were the ones igniting the whole chain of monstrosities, the local police and other U.N. peacemakers like herself were also deeply involved, and you kind of get angry about how so many people could be aware of such a horrible ordeal and do pretty much nothing against it, it’s really unbelievable to think that high-ranking officials of the U.N. were aware of such a thing.

Maybe first-time writer-director Larysa Kondracki’s lack of experience is to blame for the fact that the film itself wasn’t as gripping as it could and should have been (though the script was certainly well-researched), but I think she should still be applauded for the performance she got out of Ms. Weisz, or at the very least the performance she didn’t get in the way of this great actress delivering. Because this whole film is one big and incredible Rachel Weisz show, it’s a truly bracing performance, emotionally connected to her very core to the story she was telling, the quiet intensity she brings to the role of Kathryn as she witnesses all of these horrible events is tremendous to watch unfold.

Because horrible is the right word for all that she sees, and the film does a neat job at not shying away from that, showing Kathryn going to these clubs where underage girls were exhibited, threatened and eventually sold to people who would do as they pleased with them, and Ms. Kondracki really does deliver a few sequences that are definitely a bit hard to watch. And it’s good, it really is, the fact that I keep saying that I didn’t love this film as much I could have doesn’t come from the fact that it had elements I didn’t like, but from it missing some which I wanted it to have, it needed a quicker pace, it needed to have some sort of building tension that would really have made it be an excellent political thriller, instead of just a very good one.

I do recommend The Whistleblower quite a lot though, it may be missing a thing or two which I desperately wanted it to have, but the fact that I wanted so badly for it to be better while I watched came from the fact that there was so much already there that was playing so great. Especially the performances, the supporting cast includes the legendary Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, Monica Bellucci and Benedict Cumberbatch, all seriously great actors. And then there’s Ms. Weisz, who made a great decision to play Kathryn not so much as a heroine, but just as a cop who still does her job by the book, and that approach did all the difference, as she churned one of the better performances in her already-outstanding resumé, she alone is more than worth the price of admission for this one.

Grade: B+

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