Nebraskan Police Officer Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) finds herself missing out on the transfer she wanted but instead is offered a position as a UN Peacekeeper in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Her diligence in helping an abused woman leads to her quick promotion to head of the department of gender affairs. It is in her job that she meets Raya (Roxana Condurache) and Irka (Rayisa Kondracki), two girls who had escaped after being sold into prostitution by a relative and as Kathryn investigates she uncovers a large scale sexual slavery racket. But whilst discovering some allies in Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave) the head of the Human Rights Commission and internal-affairs specialist Peter Ward (David Strathairn) she also discovers that her investigations don't sit comfortably with everyone and quickly finds herself fired from her job when she persists in bringing attention to what she finds out. But the story doesn't end there.
So right off the bat I should say that "The Whistleblower" is not some glitzy, mainstream movie made for the masses even though it stars the familiar names of Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn. Nope this is a political thriller which isn't attempting to thrill with spectacular drama but get you to feel not only the sense of injustice but also make you feel disgust at a corrupt system and the sex slavery which Kathryn discovers going on. As such it is a movie which requires you to be in the right frame of mind for and if you watch expecting excitement you might be seriously disappointed.
Now I didn't mention two things; one is that this is a Canadian production and one which will make you sit up and make you pay attention to the good movies which are coming out of Canada. The other thing is that "The Whistleblower" is based on a real person and actual events which if you are interested you can easily find the true story on line. But what is special about this movie is that it doesn't try to turn this true story into some by the book thriller and instead heads for a sense of authenticity. That not only comes from the cold look which dominates the movie but the natural sense of dialogue with at times it feeling like we are observing real people going about their work. It brings to life the horror of the situation rather than being a movie dominated by the production and the stars.
On the subject of which "The Whistleblower" features Rachel Weisz giving one of her best performances as it is devoid of all the glitz which you would normally get from Weisz in a Hollywood movie. Weisz is not the only one and all the recognizable actors deliver performances which feel natural rather than being about what they are doing as actors. There is one scene in particular, it is after Kathryn has come across Raya and Irka and she has gone to where the prostitutes are. When she gets there the place has been emptied by local agents but as Kathryn walks in to this dark, seedy night club what Weisz brings in those moments, the element of fear, but disgust, uncertainty and the discovery of the barbaric sexual horror which went on in there is some of the most powerful acting you will ever see and if you had been struggling to get into the movie that scene will have you gripped.
What this all boils down to is that "The Whistleblower" is hard going if all you are use to is mainstream movies but it is hard going in an even more powerful way once you get in to the story. It doesn't take long to make you feel both angry and repulsed by what we encounter on different levels but also blown away by what is an extraordinary performance from Rachel Weisz which is so natural that at times makes you forget that you are watching a movie and instead make you feel like you are watching documentary footage.