Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie illustrates the depth and breadth of corruption and cruelty -- apparently based on real incidents -- in even the most respected organizations on earth. It also depicts some racial and/or cultural discrimination. It's a bit overwhelming and depressing, but the movie also shows how one brave, caring person can make changes.
Positive Role Models
Kathryn is a very strong role model, though the movie's intense, graphic nature means younger teens won't be able to "meet" her. She has a troubled past but works hard to correct that and earn the right to see her daughter again. She won't allow corruption or laziness to interfere with her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina; she does her best, all the time, and truly seems to care. She faces danger, makes ethical choices, and strives to overcome challenges.
Violence & Scariness
The movie depicts the trafficking of teen girls and shows many disturbing images related to this topic. There's a horrifying rape sequence; though no graphic details are shown, the scene focuses on the victim's terror and screams. There are suggestions of prostitution, drugs, and torture (with shots of needles and condoms). Teen girls are shown to be cut, bruised, and battered. The most horrifying images are seen in Polaroid pictures. One girl is shot point blank in the head, with a spray of blood. Viewers see threats, fighting, ruthless pummeling, and dead bodies.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some of the teen victims are seen naked in Polaroid photos, mostly topless, though there are quick, hard-to-see shots of other regions. There are strong suggestions of teen prostitution. The main character sleeps with a married man (she doesn't realize it at the time) in a scene that includes groping, kissing, and the partial removing of clothes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"F--k" is heard at least a dozen times; "s--t," "bitch," and "Jesus Christ" are used less frequently.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Quick shots of a U-Haul truck and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In early scenes, law enforcement officials are shown blowing off steam by drinking beer and/or smoking cigarettes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this downbeat drama -- which is based on a true story about human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999 -- features disturbing violence involving the teenage victims, who are tortured and brutalized (though most of this is suggested rather than actually shown). A rape sequence focuses on the victim's screams and terror rather than on graphic details of the act, but in another shot, a man shoots a girl point blank in the head (with sprays of blood). Nudity (mostly toplessness) is shown via Polaroid photos but never actually onscreen. The heroine has sex with one of her co-workers, whom (she finds out later) is married. Language includes many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and more. The heroine (Rachel Weisz) -- a police officer who wants to save the girls but winds up uncovering layer upon layer of corruption -- is a strong role model, and the material is well-researched and undoubtedly powerful, but this movie is far too intense and depressing for kids or younger teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Ukrainian-Canadian filmmaker Larysa Kondracki makes her feature writing and directing debut with THE WHISTLEBLOWER, and it seems to be straddling two Hollywood traditions. It wants to be a true story with a powerful, active female lead -- like Norma Rae, Erin Brockovich, and North Country. But it also wants to be a potboiler, using factual elements as part of a typical thriller (All the President's Men, JFK, The Insider). Unfortunately, the thriller stuff is very soft, and the docudrama stuff is too focused on "Oscar moments" (i.e. huge expressions of outrage and torment).
Yet Kondracki has clearly done some research here, and in between the awkward moments of finding bugs in phones and stealing satchels full of classified documents, the movie carefully tells a horrifying tale of human trafficking and the severe cruelty it inflicts in exchange for a massive profit. If the movie serves a purpose, aside from Weisz's powerhouse performance, it's to impart information about this important issue.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.