Saturday, 18 August 2012
THE WHISTLEBLOWER ***
This film seems to have slipped under the radar somewhat having been shot in 2010 but only being released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray earlier ths year. With such a recognisible cast (Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Strathairn, Monica Bellucci and Liam Cunningham) one must ask the question of why wasn't this film released theatrically? Without speculating about the distribution rights surrounding this German-Canadian co-production, perhaps a clue to THE WHISTLEBLOWER's 'straight-to-video' fate can be found in the rather muted merits of the film itself.
Rather unfortunately labelled a 'thriller' THE WHISTLEBLOWER is inspired by the events of real-life UN International Police officer Kathryn Bolkovac and her efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking in post-war Bosnia. Thus director and co-writer Larysa Kondracki's film must wrestle to find a balance between authenticity and entertainment.
It is hard to doubt the earnestness of the film and its intentions to engage the spectator in the humanity surrounding such a serious issue. Both Weisz as Bolkovac - the officer outcast by her peers as she risks everything to reveal the truth - and young actress Roxana Condurache - portraying the plight of one of the enslaved women - deliver committed performances. Indeed, the narrative hits the expected beats of corruption, exploitation and human suffering.
However, in keeping to its roots of re-telling a true story, one never really feels they've gained anything from this filmic experience. The result is a film that lacks the characterisation and intimacy needed for great drama or the action fuelled excitement akin to a thriller.
Ultimately, you sit through a near 2-hour film conscious of the passage of time and leave with what you brought in: human trafficking is bad and people who profit from it are vile but all too often are able to get away with it.
The Count's Verdict: Worth seeking out for the important message the film conveys although its telling doesn't always make for a great film.