This film rocked my world. Literally.
Although I have seen other films/TV movies on the subject none of them have had such an emotional and visceral effect on me.
One critic called the film “overly earnest”. Perhaps. You couldn’t blame a female filmmaker for feeling intense while listening to Kathyrn Bolkovac’s real-life horror stories about her tenure as a UN Peacekeeper in post war Bosnia where she discovered, among other things, that some of her male peers were … well, let me quote from an August 2002 article in The Times of London: ” UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers … girls who refused to have sex (were) beaten and raped in bars by their pimps while peacekeepers stood and watched … one UN policeman … paid (money) to a bar owner for an underage girl who he kept captive in his apartment to use in his own prostitution racket.”
If anything, I felt rookie Canadian director Larysa Kondracki (who co-wrote the script with Irish filmmaker Eilis Kirwan) pulled her punches in depicting the brutal treatment inflicted on these young women.
Another critic suggested the film would have been more effective as a documentary. Maybe. Except the filmmakers would have never been allowed access to the pitiable living conditions endured by the victims and depicted here (let alone a scene in which a callous bar owner shoots a young girl in the head in a rage.)
I kept telling myself the terrified teenage girls on the screen were actresses. However, the fact that they were representing real life victims and the events depicted were a composite of what really happened in this shameful period in UN history made for startling viewing.
It is especially chilling when the film makes clear that the people associated with these atrocities have never been prosecuted. (UN peacekeepers enjoyed diplomatic immunity and local authorities have proven reluctant to indict their own.)
As for Ms. Bolkovac she was eventually fired by the international firm that had contracted her services. (In spite of writing repeated letters to various officials no one, it seems, wanted to know.)
The film received a 73% approval rating from rottentomatoes.com. Roughly translated that is 81 positive reviews and 30 negative reviews.
It should be noted the large majority of the reviewers polled are male and almost all of them seem to focus on the filmmaking at the expense of the messages imbedded in the movie: that a) this was a stomach-churning series of events that went largely unpunished and unheralded and b) this type of sexual slavery is still going on today.
Frankly, I thought the comments of “Super Reviewer” Letitia L. summed up the film best. While it may not win any awards for filmmaking, in her opinion, The Whistleblower ” had a crucial story to tell and told it effectively. I need to look up Kathy Bolkovac now. Reminds me of my purpose in life, to fight for respect for womankind. Weisz is solid as usual, playing the rock-steady female lead. Everyone involved in the movie makes me proud.”
PS Ms. Kondracki was nominated for Best Achievement in Direction at the 2011 Genie Awards and shared a nomination with co-writer Eilis Kirwan in the Best Original Screenplay category. (The Genies are Canada’s answer to the Oscars.)