New-Release Tuesday: The Whistleblower

Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

Sometimes those who are charged with protecting the defenseless abuse that trust. I know: surprising, isn’t it?

The Whistleblower dramatizes a true story about one woman who stepped out of line in a major way and took down yet another despicable boys-will-be-a-holes network of sex traffickers, this one masquerading as a U.N. peacekeeping unit in Bosnia.  I was thrilled to see listed in the closing credits:

  • Larysa Kondracki — Director
  • Eilis Kirwan — Screenwriter
  • Amy Kaufman — Executive Producer
  • Christina Piovesan — Producer
  • Celine Rattray — Producer

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The film also, of course, stars Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz as Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who signs up for high-paying contract policework in Bosnia.

And the film isn’t some anti-male screed put together by a bunch of activist misanthropes.  Instead, it’s a proactively positive (if infuriatingly heartbreaking) story about the evils of sex-trafficking which enlists the help of other A-list stars like David Strathairn and Benedict Cumberbatch, while getting co-production help from a bunch of German men.

But still, the lead story is: this is story about a strong woman, starring a strong woman, made by strong women.  And it’s a strong film.

First-time director Kondracki—herself a first-generation Canadian of Ukrainian descent—put together a taut, gritty award-winning police drama that centers more on the human toll of the crimes in question than it does on procedural tactics or forensics.  And that’s a wise choice, as the heart of the story here is the very real human price paid by the girls abducted to feed the trade… and by Bolkovac, who was been effectively blacklisted because of her actions.

Released in theaters during the dog days of summer a few years ago, Whistleblower ended up expanding to only 70 screens nationwide and earned a paltry $1.1 million over 12 weeks.  To a degree, that’s understandable.  When the competition is ConanContagion, and The Lion King 3D, how many people are going to opt for a dark and ugly look at corruption and moral outrage?

Still, this is a film that deserves to be seen by a lot more eyes—and celebrated. Particularly right now.

Bear in mind also that, while I’m definitely on board with an anti-trafficking agenda, I don’t endorse every film on the topic that happens along.  I also don’t promote every film made by women, either, simply because I want to celebrate female filmmakers.

So please take my recommendation seriously.

The Whistleblower is now included with your Amazon Prime subscription. You can also stream at YouTube.