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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting human rights violations
"The Whistleblower," based on a true story, is a gritty movie about sexual trafficking in Bosnia. Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), a Nebraska cop, is a divorced mom who takes a job with a security contractor for big pay and a short tour in the Balkans. She discovers that ethnic tensions have caused local cops to refuse to investigate domestic violence cases,...
Published on January 17, 2012 by The Movie Man

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SAD BUT TRUE
I've never been a big fan of message movies. It seems far too often the message gets lost in the whims of the director or actor involved and the real story is buried. But occasionally a movie comes along where the story being told, the facts beneath it all, are so strong that they ease their way into you brain and ferment there, taking hold and forcing you to witness what...
Published on March 27, 2012 by Mark Turner


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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting human rights violations, January 17, 2012
By 
This review is from: The Whistleblower [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
"The Whistleblower," based on a true story, is a gritty movie about sexual trafficking in Bosnia. Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz), a Nebraska cop, is a divorced mom who takes a job with a security contractor for big pay and a short tour in the Balkans. She discovers that ethnic tensions have caused local cops to refuse to investigate domestic violence cases, particularly those involving Muslims. She is promoted and put in charge of gender affairs by a U.N. official (Vanessa Redgrave), but is increasingly frustrated. After building cases against sexual traffickers, she's told they enjoy diplomatic immunity.

Bolkovac is a lone crusader, persuading fearful women to testify against their abusers, bucking diplomatic hypocrisy, and dealing with rampant paranoia. Ms. Weisz heads this topical political thriller, turning in a powerful performance, one of her best. The movie underscores the collateral damage caused by politics and maintaining the delicate balance of world peace, though it's far more compelling as one strong woman's efforts to advocate for those without a voice.

The sole special feature on this release, available in Blu-ray and DVD editions, is a featurette about real-life whistleblower Kathy Bolkovac.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sharp, intellegent political drama that's not easy to watch, January 22, 2012
The Whistleblower is not a comfortable film to watch, nor is it supposed to be - Rachel Weisz takes on an extremely difficult role here that could have come across as monotone in the hands of someone less capable. I used to think she was a fairly average actress but she's clearly become somebody extremely skilled around challenging material. Some of her final scenes in the film are Oscar-worthy and underscore a number of sickening truths that have been developed throughout the script.

From the first few minutes, it's pretty clear that the story isn't going to have a happy ending and once you see what military contractors and UN officials were conspiring to achieve, it's enough to make you want to write letters to your elected representatives. I haven't read anything to indicate that the situation shown in this film is untrue and it paints an extremely shameful picture of what Westerns organizations were doing while supposedly protecting civilians.

Overall, it's an intelligent and believable political drama with sharp dialog and fast pacing. Be warned that there are a couple of very unpleasant scenes that are necessary to convey the atrocities involved but may be too much for some viewers.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh Realities Exposed, January 22, 2012
By 
This review is from: Whistleblower (DVD)
THE WHISTLEBLOWER is a film that kicks you in the stomach and then continues to play out the worst possible truths that we'd rather not admit exist. The theme of the film is Human Trafficking, and apparently there are about 2.5 million victims around the world today - young people who are sold into sexual slavery for the financial gain of people from all areas of life, including our own government, the International Practices Task Force, and contracted companies supported by the US Government to rebuild who are assigned to third world countries and countries besieged by or recovering from war, and in our own cities in this country. This film is based on a true story, a story written (and discussed in the bonus track on the DVD) by Kathryn Bolkovac who was transferred from her police job in Lincoln, Nebraska to Bosnia (with the promise of $100,000. and a six month term) to monitor the local Sarajevo police and advise them on proper police procedures. Bolkovac's story was written for the screen by Eilis Kirwan and director Larysa Kondracki who also directed the story with stinging reality.

Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) is a recently divorced mother of a young girl who has lost custody of her daughter because of her constant commitment to her job. When she is offered a lot of money and an advancement if she will go to Bosnia on a special assignment she accepts, feeling that if she ha money she can return home to live close to her young daughter. When she arrives in Sarajevo she is treated with distance from the colleagues with whom she will be working. Her first accomplishment is bringing to justice the abuse of a Muslim woman who has been constantly a victim of spousal abuse - something not considered a crime until Kathryn proves it in court. She soon discovers that there is a human trafficking problem in Bosnia where young girls are brought into the country, sold as sex slaves to tend to the needs and whims and cruel and often sadistic whims of the IPTF (International Practices Task Force) as well as the US and international soldiers assigned by the UN to cover the recovery of Bosnia. She visits the bars where the girls are kept, finds evidence of physical violence and abuse in the filth of the atrocious living conditions the girls are subjected to, and begins her attempts to save the girls - particularly Raya (Roxana Condurache) and Luba (Paula Schramm) whom she promises to protect if they will testify about their conditions. Kathryn seeks solace from a Dutch compatriot boyfriend Jan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and takes her case to the UN person in charge (Monica Bellucci) who is a by-the-rules leader and cannot offer help to Kathryn. Kathryn is contacted by Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave), the High Commissioner for Human Rights who aids her in her plight and puts her in contact with Peter Ward (David Strathairn), in Internal Affairs chief of the UN complex. Kathryn finally discovers that the perpetrators of the human trafficking are the very people with whom she works and she is ultimately fired from her position. But before she leaves she releases the documents she has created that prove the victims of human trafficking are under the direction and service of the employees of the UN - in many ways her dangerous mission has been accomplished and the Democra, a security contractor, is exposed.

Rachel Weisz brings a very human quality to her role, making her transformation into a heroine for the abused victims all the more credible. Her performance is outstanding - and in the conversation with the real life Kathryn Bolkovac in the bonus feature with the film the manner in which Weisz succeeded in her role is all the more impressive. This is a tough movie to watch, but it is a necessary statement to make the heinous crime of human trafficking more widely known and punished throughout the world. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 12
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars from someone who has seen it, lived it, told it, February 16, 2012
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Personally working in Darfur, Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains, DR Congo, Romania, Moldova, and Peru, I can tell you that I was skeptical of this movie, before I saw it. Kathryn does an amazing job of conveying her and the girls story as well as the larger problem. And, once again, Rachel delivers an unflinching rendition of a heart-breaking, no-win situation. Many would call Kathryn a fool because she was not "successful" in saving the few, however, I know that the price she paid--and continues to pay--renders her life a broken prayer (as in K.D. Langs song, Hallelujah). God bless you both Kathryn and Rachel. [...]
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Circle of Life?, January 24, 2012
By 
KatieHepburn (Sweetwater, USA) - See all my reviews
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"Humanity, I love you because when you're hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink." E.E. Cummings

'The Whistleblower' did a fine job of focusing attention on the atrocity of sex-trading young women in postwar Bosnia. Even further troubling, for some of us, is the fact that U.N.'Peace Keeping Contractors', another phrase to add to my list of paradoxymorons in this case, were involved. This was an intelligent thriller and Weis was, as usual, extraordinary.

This movie, about the abuse and trivialization of women, provoked an interesting response in me, for sure. But that would be a rant and I will not perpetrate it upon you...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and exciting., August 28, 2011
An American police officer takes a job as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, and she finds that the UN contingent members are involved in the trafficking of young women as sex slaves. She is determined to do something to stop it and to see that the culprits are brought to justice. Rachel Weisz is excellent and she brings depth to the film, adding to its ever-present dramatic occurrences. You will find yourself invested in the outcome, and hopeful for the culprits to be held accountable. Not every ending is a happy one, which adds to the film's realism. This is a strong effort and is highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, what a heartbreaking movie...., October 10, 2011
If Rachel Weisz hadn't already made it, this would have been her breakthrough role. This is one of the top 5 movies I've watched this year, and definitely the best drama I've seen. It makes it more incredible that this is all based on 100% true events and the main character, Kathryn Bolkovac, still remains blackballed from employment because she blew the whistle on a corrupt United Nations. Monica Bellucci is excellent as usual and Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn also delivery impressive and convincing performances. This DVD is excellent also. No extras, but solid picture and sound. Highly highly recommended
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SAD BUT TRUE, March 27, 2012
This review is from: Whistleblower (DVD)
I've never been a big fan of message movies. It seems far too often the message gets lost in the whims of the director or actor involved and the real story is buried. But occasionally a movie comes along where the story being told, the facts beneath it all, are so strong that they ease their way into you brain and ferment there, taking hold and forcing you to witness what it was all about. THE WHISTLEBLOWER is one such movie.

It's 1999 and Rachel Weisz stars as Kathryn Bolkovac, a police woman with problems. Her ex-husband has sued for and won full custody of their daughter and is moving her to Georgia. Kathryn requested a transfer to the Georgia State Police but they don't have any openings at the moment and with a mortgage to worry about she can't just up and move. Then fate steps in and provides her with a chance to make great money for just 6 months work. That job is as a privately run security force connected to the United Nations forces working in Bosnia.

Kathryn takes the job thinking she'll just be doing regular police work in another country, helping folks in need and having her back watched by fellow officers. Her first taste of controversy arrives when she comes to the aid of a Muslim woman constantly beaten by her husband. The local police could care less since she's a Muslim. Through her knowledge of law and the with the help of a sympathetic officer, Kathryn gets justice for the woman, a first concerning Muslim women in the area. This comes to the notice of others at the United Nations.

Kathryn is offered a chance to work in the Human Rights commission and jumps at the chance. During one of her investigations she learns of a group of young girls who have been severely abused to the point of torture. In talking to them they lead her to investigate a local bar where she finds pictures of the girls being sexually and physically abused in the worst conditions possible. A room with dirty mattresses and chains to hold the girls is found with used condoms and needles strewn around. In checking the pictures she finds Kathryn discovers that various members of the private contractor peace force she joined are a part of this group as are members of the local police.

Kathryn takes this news to her supervisor and is asked to pursue the matter. She talks one of two girls into testifying about the abuse and the men who were involved. Called away, her ally in the force takes the girl to testify only to be ambushed and have her taken from him. Returned to the hole she was removed from, the young girl is tortured in front of the rest on hand as a way of showing them what will happen if they talk.

Kathryn continues to search for the young girl in hopes of finding her and honoring her promise to keep her safe. Seeing the girl's mother who arrived before she was taken only causes Kathryn more pain. With no one to help her, with all those around her viewing her as the enemy, she finds aid in the group she's worked for at the UN. Can she save this young girl in time?

The end of the story in real life had so so results. The employees of the company involved in the story were removed from the area but not tried in court. An investigation into human trafficking was begun and the depth of the problem was unimaginable. But the costs involved were high. The career of Kathryn Bolkovac was ruined. The problem though slowed remains.

The great thing about this movie is that it doesn't pull punches. It wants you, the viewer, to realize just how bad the situation is. It wants you to see just how hopeless the lives of these girls become. And it wants you to know that there are people in this world possessed of an evil so overpowering that human life means nothing to them. In a world where we consider the disruption of cable in the middle of a game to be horrific, its hard to imagine a world like that depicted here. But perhaps with movies like this more people will be made aware.

Weisz does a tremendous job here pulling out both the naive ness of her character at first and then the realization that she may have taken on more than she could handle. The feeling of being helpless in a foreign land, of not knowing who you can trust, is on full display in her performance and she does it with ease. You will believe she is Kathryn Bolkovac. And you will realize that this problem is not one that will go away easily.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex Slavery - and one Woman's Mission to Stop It., January 26, 2012
By 
Gerard D. Launay (Berkeley, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Whistleblower (DVD)
Certainly the issue of sex slavery, human trafficking, and enforced prostitution has been raised before in film. Nevertheless, I select "this story" as the most harrowing of them all. Ironically, it is persuasive by not being overly graphic. But the discovery of the crime and the efforts of a lone crusader - a moral police woman - to try to stop this in Bosnia and protect the girls is truly gut wrenching. What sticks in my mind is how much corruption exists in all levels of local, foreign, and U.N. agencies.

This is not just a worthwhile movie, it is a necessary one. Unlike a few other reviewers, I did not find the pace slow; the scriptwriter took time to set the stage and let the facts flow naturally - making the movie an astonishingly tense thriller. I have the highest regard for Rachel Weisz's performance - one of her best. Indeed all the performances are realistic and top notch.

How important is this film? Consider that in Argentina...human trafficking was legal...until one mother fought the police, the legal system, and the country to change the laws while still looking for her daughter - who may still be alive but working in misery as a forced prostitute. Everything about this movie rings true to me. Consider also that sex slavery is the second biggest illegal business in the world - yielding billions of dollars in profits every year at the expense of others' dignity.

I never felt that the director was exploiting the subject matter to show either sex or violence. Instead the director focuses on the fear in the victims' eyes and body language when they are given the choice to testify against their aggressors...or not. That says it all.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Movie!!, January 29, 2012
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This was a powerfully true story that was beautifully acted by Rachel Weitz. Her performance should win her an Academy Award! Some disturbing scenes but true nonetheless and it will leave you thinking about the reality of our government.
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The Whistleblower [Blu-ray]
The Whistleblower [Blu-ray] by Weisz (Blu-ray - 2012)
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