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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Larysa Kondracki
Cast:
Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Roxana Condurache, Paula Schramm
Writing Credits:
Larysa Kondracki, Eilis Kirwan

Tagline:
Nothing is more dangerous than the truth.

Synopsis:
A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$61.002 thousand on 7 screens.
Domestic Gross
$1.120 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/24/2012

Bonus:
• “Kathy Bolkovac: The Real Whistleblower” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Whistleblower [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 1, 2012)

Though 2011’s The Whistleblower received a limited release – and never appeared on more than 70 screens in the US – that beats many “direct to video” projects. Does it disqualify Whistleblower from the “direct to video” designation? I guess, but barely; 70 screens and a US gross just a smidgen over $1 million means the film reached a small audience.

As always with efforts like this, the question becomes whether or not the flick deserved to find a bigger following. Whistleblower takes us to the Balkans circa 1999. Police officer Kathy Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) accepts a high-paid six-month gig as a “peace keeper” in Bosnia, where the country goes through a rough road from war to peace.

Due to her interest in social justice, Kathy gets the job as the head of the “Gender Affairs” office. Along the way, she discovers a thriving sex-trafficking underworld – and an official culture that happily allows it to occur as long as those authorities get paid. Kathy strives to overcome the obstacles, expose the corruption and save as many girls as she can.

Would it be a mistake to call this film “Erin Brockovich in Bosnia”? Maybe, as the two flicks have quite a few differences, but damn if that’s not the impression I get. Whistleblower falls into the “lone crusader” genre, one in which the lead character works hard to bring down a sleazy system.

Brockovich overcame its potentially stale subject matter due to some manipulative but still deft direction from Steven Soderbergh. Unfortunately, he’s nowhere to be found here, and Whistleblower director Larysa Kondracki can’t do much to bring life to the tale.

Instead, Kondracki makes everything really, really urgent. She seems to have no faith in the inherent drama of the tale, so we get non-stop score, hyperactive camerawork and a generally overwrought sensibility. Even the usually strong Weisz pours on the emotion – and a pretty awful stab at a Midwest accent.

Rather than give the material the heft and impact it deserves, these techniques largely undercut the natural power of the tale. We don’t feel caught up in the story and invested in the characters. Instead, we become worn out by all the theatrics and wind up tuning out much of the material.

Which seems like a shame, as I think the subject matter deserves attention. Buried beneath all the filmmaking hysterics, there’s a quality story that could be told.

But this movie just doesn’t deliver it in a satisfying manner. In addition to the overwhelming filmmaking techniques, the project has a “been there, done that” sense. It turns into a pretty standard thriller that can’t make the subject matter stand out as unique, and it suffers from a boilerplate feel; I sometimes got the impression the filmmakers had a little checklist they followed to determine where things should go.

This means Whistleblower leaves me cold. It lacks the emotional punch it needs, as its overdone nature robs it of its natural power. That’s too bad, as the flick could’ve been emotional and involving, but as it stands, it’s a lackluster thriller without much to make it thrive.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

The Whistleblower appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie boasted a consistently positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. Interiors occasionally display light softness, but those instances remained modest. The majority of the movie seemed concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge enhancement didn’t affect the movie. Print flaws also failed to mar the image.

In terms of colors, Whistleblower opted for a cool palette. It usually went with an aqua tint at most; its tones stayed fairly chilly and desaturated throughout the film. This meant the hues were subdued but fine given the stylistic choices. Blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity. Overall, the film came across well.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Whistleblower, it came with ups and downs. The film's quieter scenes worked the worst, mainly due to some clumsy Foley material. Sequences that concentrated on environmental information likes cars and other background elements felt forced; the components didn’t mesh well, so these scenes lacked a natural feel.

The film’s occasional louder moments appeared more impressive, though. We didn’t get a ton of these, but when explosions and the like appeared, the soundscape seemed pretty engaging and realistic. The quieter scenes dominated and left the soundfield as less engaging than I’d like, but even those weren’t bad; they just appeared a bit awkward.

Audio quality was fine. Music seemed full and dynamic, and effects followed suit; those elements were consistently vivid and clear. Speech was reasonably natural and distinctive; some lines could be a bit tough to understand, though that resulted more from accents than anything else. The occasional clunky nature of the soundfield made this a “B-“ track.

Only one minor extra pops up here: a featurette called Kathy Bolkovac: The Real Whistleblower. It goes for five minutes, 31 seconds and offers comments from Bolkovac, former head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bosnia Madeleine Rees, writer/director Larysa Kondracki, writer Eilis Kirwan, and actors Rachel Weisz, Jeannette Hain, and Nikolaj Lie Kaas. We learn a little about Bolkovac as well as Weisz’s performance and the film’s story. While it’s nice to meet the real person behind the film’s events, we don’t learn anything substantial here; it’s basic promotional fluff.

The disc opens with ads for Martha Marcy May Marlene, There Be Dragons and the FX Network. No trailer for Whistleblower pops up here.

Based on a potentially powerful true story, The Whistleblower had the potential to be a vivid thriller. Instead, it turned into a hysterical melodrama that suffers from overwrought filmmaking techniques. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and decent audio but lacks substantial supplements. The presence of a good cast and intriguing subject matter make Whistleblower enticing, but the end result disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8125 Stars Number of Votes: 32
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