When I was growing up the thing that scared the crap out of me was nuclear war. For many years I was convinced that we were all going to radiated away. So when I saw Silkwood it resonated with me in a profound way.
That’s what I felt when I was watching The Whistleblower. This is a tough movie but it is a film that is profoundly about our current climate. A climate where women and girls are treated as commodities, sold to the highest bidder, or maybe not even the highest bidder, given away by their parents and trafficked all across the world like cattle.
What director Larysa Kondracki does is take an issue that we have seen in news reports and in documentaries and make a fictional film about a true hero of out time – Kathryn Bolkovac, a woman I am sure I would never have heard of had this movie never been made.
The story takes place in the late 90s when trafficking was just getting going (but of course women have been sold forever) when Kathryn Bolkovac took a job as a peacekeeper following the Bosnian war. Played pitch perfect by Rachel Weisz, Bolkovac is one of a couple of women in a sea of men who don’t give a shit about why they are in Bosnia. They see a corrupt, messed up country and instead of making things better and keeping the peace they become part of the problem. The film plays like a thriller with Bolkovac trying to save the lives of girls who are being sold. She does her best but almost everyone is against her, and anyway who cares, they’re just girls.
The film is frustrating because in the 10 odd years since this true story occurred, sex trafficking has exploded. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
This film is not picnic in the park. It’s dark and sometimes hard to follow onscreen. At times I couldn’t even tell who was talking to whom, and I wish it had a little more lighter moments to contrast all the crazy shit that went on. But Weisz is so damn good as are her supporting cast members including David Strathairn and Vanessa Redgrave.
Now I don’t like giving homework assignments but I am going to this weekend. Your work for this weekend is to go and see the movie because if we don’t support a movie like this — a movie about a strong woman who goes up against the entire system to try and save other women — then we deserve to see the crap that we are fed. Here we have an Academy Award winning actress kicking butt in a part. Here we have a movie written by women and directed by a woman. And it’s good and about something. Here is an opportunity for you to make a difference. This is a small movie. It opens in NY and LA this weekend and then rolls out across the country. Vote for women with your box office dollars. If you think your 10 or 12 bucks don’t matter you are fooling yourself.