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Always a compelling onscreen presence, Rachel Weisz makes for an intractable UN Peacekeeper in this earnestly well-meaning drama about human trafficking. Based on the true story of Nebraskan police officer-turned-peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac, the film by Canadian co-writer/director Larysa Kondracki keenly portrays post-war Bosnia and the horrific sexual slavery that became a booming business alongside the influx of UN “Smurfs”.
Initially taking the post to make a quick buck, Bolkovac’s innate investigation skills see her rise in the ranks before the discovery of UN personnel involvement in human trafficking forces her into the dangerous position of whistleblower.
Topically and thematically, this is a strong feature debut for Kondracki, who has attracted a masterful ensemble that also includes Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn and Monica Bellucci. Kondracki also wisely keeps the camera close to make the most of her terrific leading lady, with Weisz bringing much-needed gravitas to a rather patchy script.
Indeed the film seems so concerned with being worthy of its harrowing true story that it often veers away from political-thriller into melodrama. Ultimately, Bolkovac’s extraordinary story deserves a much more incisive script, one that sinks its teeth into the UN nightmare and gets its audiences up in arms. Instead The Whistleblower pulls its punches.