Netflix Film of the Week: The Whistleblower

The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.

The Whistleblower

Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter


Starring Rachel Weisz in a powerful leading role, 2010 thriller The Whistleblower is an incendiary and often harrowing depiction of violent betrayals perpetrated by individuals entrusted with protecting their victims.

Based upon the experiences of American cop and UN peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac during the late-nineties, the picture documents her experiences in a post-war Bosnia and her discovery of widespread corruption and acts of sex trafficking carried out by local police, government sponsored security firms, and most startling of all, UN agents.

Bolkovac’s seemingly insurmountable struggle to aid the victims of such horrendous acts and her battle to bring justice to a land in which diplomatic immunity reigns supreme, results in a deeply personal story, jumping between Bolkovac’s narrative and the desperate tales of the young women whose dreams of a new life have suddenly faded to faint hopes of staying alive through daily acts of brutal sexual abuse.

Unfortunately the film does suffer from several instances of jarring editing. The potency of the story remains, however narrative jumps give the impression of ‘lost time’ and large swathes of cut content; never is this more present than within a couple of short and confusing scenes involving Benedict Cumberbatch which hint at an interesting omitted sub-plot further exhibiting UN hierarchies of exploitation and life-threatening negligence. Nevertheless an accomplished supporting cast and Bolkovac’s multifaceted story, which also reveals her own personal flaws (a custody battle and an affair with a fellow peacekeeper), prove suitably engaging and emotionally robust from beginning to end.

Director Larysa Kondracki and Bolkovac have highlighted that the film is ultimately a fictionalisation of actual events, however the stories presented where, and still are, experienced on a daily basis by thousands of individuals sold into sexual slavery. Much evidence also reveals corrupt cells of UN peacekeepers figuratively and literally raping war-torn regions around the world, from Eastern Europe to The Middle East. The aftermath of The Whistleblower’s release led UN officials to take notice and address these real-life horrors, now it’s your chance to realise Kathryn Bolkovac sobering struggle and her fight for those how were betrayed by their protectors.

The Whistleblower is available on Netflix UK now.

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