Starring: Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn, Vanessa Redgrave
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Running Time: 107 mins
The Whistleblower is an American film about the true story of Kathy Bolkovac, a US policewoman who, while serving in Bosnia as a UN peacekeeper after the war discovered that UN officials were covering up their involvement in sex trafficking in the region.
On the face of things, this is a really interesting true story, presenting a relatively unknown story that looks deep into corruption in one of the world’s biggest organisations. From time to time, the film delivers on the gritty and interesting premise, but more often than not, it fails to give a sufficiently brutal and uncomfortable watch, which means that so much of what it’s trying to say really loses its power.
But before I get into that, I’ll start on the plus side, and say that when this film does live up to that gritty promise, it really works. There are two particular scenes in this movie that don’t hold back when trying to make you uncomfortable with the violence depicted, and frustrated with the injustice happening.
That proved that director Larysa Kondracki knew what she was doing, and she definitely deserves praise for making an effectively brutal experience at times. However, the flipside of knowing that makes the rest of the film somewhat more disappointing.
I’m not looking for blood and guts all over, but what I felt was missing was a real sense of melancholy and desperation. Rachel Weisz certainly looks frustrated, and, as a viewer, you feel a sense of frustration at the corruption too, but it never really feels like everything is without hope.
This film reminds me a lot of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, a similar thriller that was going for a sense of dark desperation throughout, but came up short as something a lot more neutral. The Whistleblower has a clear objective of making you feel deeply disturbed and uncomfortable by the events that it’s depicting, but the fact that the atmosphere just isn’t strong enough means that it doesn’t quite get under your skin as it should do.
Also, there’s a little bit too much American cheese throughout this movie. It’s not awful, but there are quite a few lines of dialogue, images and more that feel really forced in here, and definitely don’t fit with any sort of dark atmosphere that the film is going for.
Overall, The Whistleblower was an interesting true story that occasionally managed to prove itself with some brutal scenes, but the general lack of potent despair and darkness made it a much less powerful film than it was aiming to be, and that’s why it gets a 6.9 from me.