Based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, The Whistleblower explores the horrors of sex trafficking in vivid detail. When Atlanta policewoman Kathy Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) decided to accept a position as a UN peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia, her plan was to earn $100,000 in 6 months in order to move closer to her ex-husband, who’d gotten custody of their daughter. Once she arrives in Sarajevo, however, she finds herself doing more than the basic peacekeeping. In a country that’s still torn apart by racial hatred, many victims don’t get the justice they deserve—and Kathy makes it her mission to help them.
Arriving in Bosnia, Kathryn quickly rises through the ranks, given her practical knowledge and excellent policing skills. After helping a local officer obtain the regions first conviction for domestic abuse, she is recruited to run the UN’s Gender Office, which investigates sexual assault, domestic abuse and sex trafficking. Kathryn quickly learns that young girls from a variety of Eastern European countries are being taken from their homes on the promise of working as “waitresses” and are instead sold into sexual slavery as part of a vast underground network that’s barely disguised. This is due to under-the-table deals between the crime lords and the peacekeeping forces put in place by DynCorp, the private company she works forks for.
Damning photographic evidence shows Kathryn the complicity of her diplomatically-immune co-workers in the areas sex trade industry. The deeper Kathy gets into the investigation, the more suspenseful her story becomes—when it becomes obvious that DynCorp wants her out of Bosnia, you have to wonder just how far they’ll go to accomplish that goal—if you’re like me, you’ll wonder why she didn’t just hightail it back to the States.
Even so, Weisz gives the performance everything she has, giving her character a real emotion devotion that makes it hard not to root for her. At times, Kathy’s story gets sidetracked by unnecessary subplots (like her relationship with one of her fellow international peacekeepers), but it’s an admirable tale nonetheless.
The Whistleblower isn’t a fun movie to watch. It’s a difficult, occasionally sickening experience real life drama that will have many viewers cringing in disbelief. However, The Whistleblower is an important project, as it may serve to open some eyes to the problem of sex trafficking around the world.
Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, the films rather dark lighting doesn’t make for a premium HD presentation. In some scenes, things are so dark that you have to guess what’s taking place. Given the subject matter, the darkness may well be intended, but HD only compounds the problem. Other scenes show a nice level of detail, but black levels remain inconsistent. This isn’t a bad transfer by any means; it just doesn’t represent the true measure of what HD has to offer.
For a film that’s largely dialogue driven, the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 presentation does what it’s supposed to. Dialogue is clear, and doesn’t get lost in background music or effects. The track itself is rather front heavy, so don’t expect much in the way of surrounds.
English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are available.
The following special features are included:
- Kathy Bolkovac: The Real Whistleblower (HD, 5:31), a short featurette that includes interviews with Bolkovac, Weisz, and the film’s writer/director Larysa Kondracki, among others.