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Rashid Irani's review: The Whistleblower

Inspired by actual events, this political thriller recreates a shameful chapter in recent Bosnian history. Rashid Irani writes.

movie reviews Updated: Jan 31, 2012 12:10 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times

No country for young women

The Whistleblower
Direction: Larysa Kondracki
Actors: Rachel Weisz, Roxana Condurache
Rating: ***1/2

Inspired by actual events, this political thriller recreates a shameful chapter in recent Bosnian history.

WhistleblowerDebutante Ukrainian-Canadian director Larysa Kondracki refrains from sensationalism while narrating the story of a former American policewoman (Weisz) commissioned as a UN peacekeeper in post-war Sarajevo. In the course of her work, she uncovers evidence of the involvement of international law enforcement officers in human trafficking.

The former cop puts her career on the line to save underage East European girls who are hoodwinked into sexual slavery. Incarcerated in subhuman conditions in the backroom of a local bar, their precarious situation is compounded by the complicity of some of the very people who were sent to the war-torn country to protect them.

The human-rights abuses continue unabated as diplomats seem unwilling to intervene and corruption is endemic. The plight of the victims is palpable. Distressingly, even a decade after the harrowing events, none of the perpetrators have been prosecuted.

The painstakingly researched script has something of vital importance to say about the abuse of power and pulls no punches saying it. There may be a little hectoring at times, but the enormity of the situation is conveyed without recourse to gratuitous violence.

A romantic interlude between the law enforcer and her Dutch colleague strikes one of the film's few false notes. Clearly a project close to her heart, Kondracki gives the material a multi-layered perspective while revealing sensitivity for the well-defined characters.

Rachel Weisz invests her role with understated intensity. However, the greater impact is provided by Roxana Condurache as the naïve Ukrainian girl ensnared in the sex trade. Old-timer Vanessa Redgrave is equally impressive as a sympathetic UN official.

The Whistleblower is powerful and provocative. Go for it.

First Published: Oct 22, 2011 00:18 IST