Monday, December 26, 2011

THE WHISTLEBLOWER: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, Monica Belluci
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Runtime: 112 min.
Verdict: An offensive often disgusting film.
Genre: Thriller, Drama

        Here is a film that is about sex trafficking and capitalist monsters and the titular whistleblower, and offers more than enough to whet our appetite for lurid material. There is a glorious scene right in the middle of it all where a huge metal rod is pierced into a woman’s you know where, and it is obviously the film’s showpiece a.k.a. the “gut-wrenching and horrific truth”. Thankfully, the film doesn’t explicitly show the action but implies it, by following up the poor girl’s wailing with the rod dropped on the floor, and the other girls’ reactions thrown in for good measure. Oh yeah, the men here are brutal, and all most of these irredeemable bastards want, especially even the guys who form the U.N. peacekeeping mission, is to bang every decent-looking woman in sight. Kathy Bolkovac (Ms. Weisz) is driven into Bosnia on a military bus to serve her peacekeeping contract working for a security firm called Democra Corp, and a cursory glance underlines reveals that her colleagues seem to be all men. Oh except for one other woman sitting in the behind. A guy nudges his friends to have a look at Kathy, and she laughs it off as she would any of these schoolboy shenanigans, little aware that she’s walking into the unfinished fourth part of the stories where the men really, really hate women. And although nothing of note happens to her, by way of physical harm I mean, while the Balkan girls are raped and mauled and pierced and shot, The Whistleblower’s utter brilliance lies in the manner in which it turns all of it into Kathy’s crusade. The girls might be in danger, a mother might have little idea where to look for her daughter, but the real fight is Kathy’s alone. My blood boils, but for different reasons.
        The film’s opening shot is of two young girls having fun in the night. The film’s closing moments provide for Kathy declaring to her BBC interviewer (Tim Sebastian?) that if needed she would do all of it again. The “all of it” includes trespassing into the organization’s office and stealing the necessary files and revealing it to the media. In the film’s post-script, we learn of the guys who committed these atrocities, we learn of Kathy and amidst all this Ms. Kondracki has somehow turned the story of scores of unwitting girls into a triumphant story of a crusader. Right from individual scenes, where the film’s primary strategy is to provide for these young girls to suffer or run or die and end it all with Kathy’s reactions, thereby making it all hers, to the film’s numerous 360-degree dramatic shots, which only serve Kathy and nobody else, one gets the feeling that the trafficked girls are merely the mechanics of a plot, or rather a macGuffin, whose sufferings the film only employs to draw some valuable dramatic tension so that the real characters – the good guys represented by Kathy, Madeleine Rees (Ms. Redgrave), Peter Ward (Mr. Strathairn), the bad guys represented by the significant others (no, not the Bosnians but the Americans) – can draw leverage out of it. A girl running in the woods scared shitless for her life is found by Kathy and the tears that are focused on (thereby more important) are not the girl’s. In a witness room, when a couple of girls ask Kathy to promise them safety, it is not their situation that the Ms. Kondracki is interested in but Kathy’s conscience and her word. Every sequence with Kathy in it ends with the camera on her. What’s at stake are not the lives of these girls but the humanity of an international organization, which, the film claims, was built from the ashes of Auschwitz. I wish I had a spare arm I could throw at the film.
        But then, there’s a parallel little drama, floating unattended, with the film cutting to it only as an obligation, which unfolds between the mother and her sister, and which in its present state only serves to further anger me. Yet, I think there’s more to it. There’s a story lying in the cutting floor, and maybe it is about them and not about the American morality. I would’ve respected The Whistleblower had it taken its subject head-on and not provide us with the kitschy horror of those young girls. Or if it had blown itself into one of those hyperlink films where the mother and her daughter and her friends and the other Balkans get the same respect as Kathy. Otherwise the film, for all its preaching, is treating them much the same way it accuses an organization of doing – like objects.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

the rod scene was terrible .... and y the hell do u need to carry the bag from the front door , y dint she took it the way she came inside the building , that was totally pointless.

Treok said...

Great movie. Bullshit review by another critic that does nothing to make the world a better place, and only criticizes those that make a movie such as this, saying, But they aren't doing enough.
What are You doing? Nothing!

Treok said...

Movie critics are a joke, and here's one more example of that.
A great movie on a disgusting truth, and all you can say is it's not good enough.
You say it doesn't go far enough...here is one reason why from an article I just read..
"The actual abuses in Bosnia were so shocking that the film's director, Larysa Kondracki, told Turtle Bay that she had to tone it down to make it believable and to ensure that viewers didn't "tune it out." The movie, she said, in some ways resembles a "70s paranoid thriller" in which it can be hard to tell the difference between the heroes and the villains. Kondracki declined to name DynCorp as the model for the company portrayed in the movie, citing unspecified legal concerns.
So, people make a movie and critics do nothing but complain.
Go do something useful, like give a critique of the UN.