Babes in Bosnia: Hollywood’s Take on Sex Trafficking in The Whistleblower


In Canadian director Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower, shot in Romania, British babe Rachel Weisz plays a poor Nebraska cop who takes a U.N. job in postwar Bosnia to investigate the sex trafficking of young women, including two Ukrainians, and unearths evidence of multinational peacekeeper complicity in the crimes (and U.S. government support of the whole ugly racket). Geographic diffusion aside, Kondracki’s fact-based thriller remains somewhat focused on its grim subject, though its principled bid to allure and enlighten the VOD-surfing masses results in a surplus of Hollywood-style eye candy and narrative formula. No less a looker than Monica Bellucci appears as the bitchy head of the U.N.’s repatriation program, seemingly to offset the arguably admirable characterization of most every male as a sex-crazed creep or worse, while late-reel scenes of suspense involving the heinously victimized Ukrainians fall somewhere along the line between shocking reportage and standard-issue torture porn. Clearly channeling Jodie Foster’s distaff avenger in The Silence of the Lambs (but with a healthy hetero appetite thrown in), Weisz’s Oscar-campaign-worthy turn does nothing to obscure the movie’s half-intended message that, regardless of national borders, where sex is involved, there’s money to be made.