The Whistleblower - Online Review

'Kondracki's willingness to address violence - both sexual and regular - is refreshing in something which could have played its hand much safer'

The debut feature for Larysa Kondracki, The Whistleblower is a somewhat baggy thriller with a very dark underbelly and a tremendous leading role for Rachel Weisz, as the UN peacekeeper who uncovers a scandal in Bosnia.

Seeing a film-maker go back to the Bosnian War of the early nineties now, and do so through the lens of a US national, parachuted in to influence events, it is tempting to read a hidden Iraq/Afghanistan agenda in to Kondracki's film. Weisz' Kathryn Bolkovac (based on the real life person of the same name) is definitely purely there to help but the film also suggests fairly early doors that the help required may be at least partially due to her fellow nationals. The hints are clearly there that this is a film concerned with portraying the occupying foreigners as - often very literal - rapists of the territory on which they now find themselves.

Somewhat surprisingly, the film develops an honest and frank underbelly, most notably portrayed in two upsetting scenes involving Roxana Condurache's Raya. Kondracki's willingness to address violence - both sexual and regular - is refreshing in something which could have played its hand much safer but it is also at odds with the way she chooses to present scenes elsewhere. Weisz' own sex scene, for example, looks glumly mundane, a holdover from the early nineties; flapping curtains, blurry lens and not a whole load of sizzle. Later on, the tension the film creates is wasted, the director failing to find an outlet beyond a mistaken-identity-cleaner and a surprise knock on a car window.

Weisz' strong performance too is sometimes let down by those opposite her. With Vanessa Redgrave or David Strathairn in the room her earnestness seems carefully designed and at home. With the lesser supporting cast she looks like an out of place thespian, far removed from the stage proper, into the local flea pit.

So, there are problems here, and ones that are impossible not to notice at that, but it is also impossible not to respect the way in which the film goes about its numerous successes with an honesty and willingness not to forget the shocking human side of the story. Unfairly ignored.




The Whistleblower was playing on Sky Anytime.

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