Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway The Whistleblower Horrors upon horrors. Such is the bleak landscape of "The Whistleblower", a new thriller based on the real life sex trafficking cases in Bosnia during the late 90's. In this film, hardly anyone has a good heart, except of course our heroine. Rachel Weisz plays police officer Kathryn Bolkovac a divorced mother who loses custody of her kids. This is the one element that really doesn't make sense:
Kathryn is a responsible and loving mother. The father is a generic non-entity and the stepmom is faceless. For some reason Kathryn is behind the eight-ball for no known reason. She needs money presumably for lawyers.
Kathryn takes a job working for The U.N. as a peacekeeping security force in Bosnia. Everything is filmed with a gray blue filter, but this is post-war Bosnia after all.
By chance on a security detail, Kathryn finds a dark dungeon room, a stained cramped mattress, used condoms, and nude pictures of under-age girls, beaten and in bondage. Immorality lurks here.
Weisz plays a role that Jodie Foster made famous: the tough resilient officer with maternal fire. Weisz plays the part with earnestness and vigor. Kathryn is no Hannibalesque cookie cutter imitation of Clarise Starling. We follow each connection that she makes with fresh humanistic eyes, even though the crimes unfold with the rhythm of a "Law & Order" episode.
The Bosnian criminals are duly disgusting, being unclean, coarse, and vulgar and the U.N. officers are appropriately smarmy and insincere---frat boys in dark blue. Be warned. Some of the scenes are quite wrenching. There are impressionistic spots of jolting torture: piercing screams, a shaking camera and gory rape imagery. With such suggestions of blood, screaming, and sweat you might think unhealthily of the "Hostel" franchise. But thankfully the camera spares us the worst, by shaking and pinpointing on blurry flashes of horrible pain---a violent Seurat.
What we see coming in the violence of young girls is quite enough.
Officer Bolkovac is a one woman army. She alone is compassionate, steel of heart and forthright, her face a white ax against the ulcerated sky. Bolkovac is the glue that holds the story together. The land of postwar Bosnia itself seems just as blanched and lobotomized as any uncaring and complicit U.N. officer.
Vanessa Redgrave and David Straithairn deliver capable performances as the two officials that you can actually depend on.
"The Whistleblower" is a wrenching fast paced film in the moving tradition of "The Accused" and "The Insider". It does not offer any new surprises and you can catch the same type of story on the cable news channels, but it is still cathartic and satisfying, just for the fact of one lone woman who does the right thing. Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org