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The Whistleblower worth hearing out 

Here's some pertinent information about DynCorp, culled from various sources (including The Guardian, The New York Times and Human Rights Watch): "DynCorp International is a United States-based private military company [which] has provided services for the U.S. military in Bolivia, Bosnia, Somalia, Angola, Haiti, Colombia, Kosovo and Kuwait ... Throughout the world, DynCorp employees have been accused (and frequently found guilty) of murder, torture, fraud, and paying for male child prostitutes." And the sickening punchline: "DynCorp currently receives more than 96% of its $2 billion in annual revenues from the US federal government." (The times they are not a-changin' fast enough, Mr. President.)

Why is this relevant to a review of The Whistleblower? Here's why: "DynCorp had a $15 million contract to hire and train police officers for duty in Bosnia at the time Kathryn Bolkovac reported such officers were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex-trafficking. She was unfairly dismissed due to a protected disclosure (whistleblowing)." Although the name DynCorp has been changed for the film, the name Kathryn Bolkovac remains, and this picture relates her harrowing experiences while working in Bosnia. Needless to say, this is a prime example of feel-bad cinema, and one scene in particular — a teenage girl who tries to escape is punished for her actions — is practically unwatchable. But film has a responsibility to educate as well as entertain, and for those up to the task, The Whistleblower is an ofttimes powerful experience, with Ukrainian-Canadian writer-director Larysa Kondracki (making her feature debut, as is co-scripter Eilis Kirwan) avoiding unnecessary embellishments and letting the story speak for itself.

As Kathryn Bolkovac, Rachel Weisz brings the same no-nonsense demeanor and steely conviction that informed her Oscar-winning performance in The Constant Gardener. The stateside scenes showing how the divorced Kathryn lost custody of her daughter to her ex-husband because of her workaholic tendencies as a Nebraska police officer are doubtless meant to present her as a flawed human being, since movies selling their protagonists as complete saints are generally prone to disparagement. But these sequences are useless in this regard because, make no mistake, Kathryn is a hero, and we share her frustrations when dealing with sexist U.S. peacekeepers and unctuous h.r. personnel as well as Bosnian police officers who chuckle and crack jokes when confronted with battered or murdered women. For all its righteous indignation, The Whistleblower never soars as high as comparable titles like The Killing Fields and the aforementioned The Constant Gardener. But those needing a break from such imbecilic fantasies as The Smurfs and Transformers: Part Trois won't mind subjecting themselves to its uncomfortable truths.

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