Kathy’s tough demeanor leads to the first post-war domestic violence conviction in the country, raising Kathy’s profile and leading to a promotion that keeps her in the country. Torn by a desire to return to her daughter in the United States or push ahead with the progress she’s making overseas, Kathy chooses the latter and encounters ever increasing resistance as she gets closer to the source of corruption and the forces that exploit women overseas. When those closest to her turn out to be less than friendly toward her pursuit, Kathy is left to wonder who she can trust. The revelation of who is, and isn’t, Kathy’s enemy won’t come as too much of a shock: Nearly everyone is suspect, and nearly everyone turns out to be complicit in the goings on. It’s Kathy against a system comprised mainly of lecherous American men.

How might a film about such a degrading subject have been better? Some nuance would have helped. Not that the subject matter is debatable; no one would defend trafficking. But while the topic is black and white, the characters and storyline need not be. For too long, the film is about one woman in a just cause against the cadre of shady, or outright wicked, men around her. Kathy may be somewhat compromised by her marital and parental choices, but the film is so intent on showing her as a hero that it pits her against numerous vile, duplicitous villains. Nearly every man she meets—and some women as well—is treacherous. The screenwriters give Kathy a romantic interest, but that character and relationship are so underdeveloped as to be laughable.

The film concludes by making a tenuous connection between the American contractors shown working in Bosnia and those currently working in Iraq and Afghanistan. By then, however, the film’s power to persuade has long been diminished. Too heavy-handed, The Whistleblower would rather rub our faces in the details of trafficking than do the heavy lifting required for good drama. This important subject matter still awaits a film that conveys its relevance with more effective storytelling and characterizations.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; high number of “f”-words; “d-mn”; “s-it”; “what the hell”’ “a-s”; “b-tch.”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Scenes of drinking at a bar.
  • Sex/Nudity: Illustrations of girls with “pasties” on a pinball machine; Kathy goes home with a man and they undress each other and, through a blurry image, have sex; explicit pictures of nude, abused women.
  • Violence/Crime: An abused wife shows a wound inflicted by her husband; a car accident; enslaved girls are forced to watch one of their own as she’s sexually assaulted; a shot to the head at point-blank range.
  • Marriage: Kathy’s ex-husband says she’s married to her job, and that the divorce judge saw it that way, too; Kathy says she’s been married twice, even as she gets involved with a married man.
  • Religion: The Bosnian conflict pits Christians against Muslims; a character says an abused woman is “a Muslim and deserved it”; Kathy says to a man, “If I slept with you, I’m going straight to hell,” and the man replies, “You are. Let’s get drunk.”

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.