Back to IndieWire

The Whistleblower – directed by Larysa Kondracki and written by Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan

The Whistleblower - directed by Larysa Kondracki and written by Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan

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.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , ,


chrystyna salam

An amazing film -great eye opener !!!and congratulations to Laryssa Kondracki for the exceptional work !!!

Steven Mayo

This is a GREAT FILM, hard hitting, gritty, and very realistic, so i agree that people should vote by spending money to see it many times, hopefully it will have a chance at the Oscars to draw more attention to the problem. Unfortunately, sometimes the people that are supposed to be protecting the innocents and improving their lives, take advantage when they see that they can make a quick buck, and get laid, and do it with guaranteed immunity. I believe in the UN but they have to have better rules and controls of their people. When UN people commit crimes then the UN has to back off recognize that their people are becoming part of the problem.
My only criticism of the film is that I think at the end of the film they should direct people to websites or organizations that aren’t trying to help solve or fix this problem, and care centers, in case there are some victims that actually see this film. This reminds me of a film by Costa Gravas called “Missing”. When the security forces (police) become part of the problem then who can society trust, and does order and justice start breaking down into corruption chaos. We have to try hard to make our society better, and not simply depend on our politicians to think for us and take action. We have to take more action.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Crosee, Oxfam are organizations that are making a difference, but they need more help from more organizations and countries.

Pat O'Brien

THANK YOU for this review and for the challenge to vote with our box office dollars…. I really appreciate your blog and think you are making a difference. I’m a member of WILPF and Madeleine Rees, portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave in “The Whistleblower,” is WILPF’s Secretary General. We saw the film at our National Congress and at our International Congress and were blown away—Madeleine is amazingly articulate and makes the connections about what happens in all war–conflicts everywhere and we must take a stand against

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *