TIFF: The Whistleblower
The Whistleblower doesn’t start with our lead, police officer Kathryn (Rachel Weisz), but with Luba and Raya, two local girls in the Ukraine partying it up. Luba tells Raya that she can get out of the latter’s job at her mom’s photocopying place and join her to a hotel job in Central Europe. And you already know where this movie is going.
Based on a true story, in trying to earn money in a short time, Kathryn’s doing peacekeeping in Bosnia for a British contract company called Democra, her family’s in the States. Kathryn thus has a strained relationship with her children, the eldest of whom is as old as the girls being trafficked. She has to be reminded of how ‘not motherly’ she is. Apparently saving young girls from pimps isn’t motherly. The tribulations in Kathy’s Bosnia occupies her mind so much, she and the audience sometimes forget about home.
I’ll stop yelling at my iPod now, where I’m writing this section of the review. Yelling not because of the movie but because of the jerks stopping Kathryn from helping these girls. The peacekeeping forces are a man’s world, most of them are demons but it would seem fictional if they show a vulnerable side. Besides, she only has one female ally (Vanessa Redgrave) out of the handful of female characters in the film. Yes, we still are unaware of ever so prevalent human trafficking. The film tackles the material with impact-filled storytelling – that’s all we ask for. 4/5.
TIFF: Cirkus Columbia
Danis Tanovic’s new film Cirkus Columbia has angry, betrayed characters with troubled pasts. Divko comes home to Bosnia from Germany and brings with him an angry redhead of a trophy girlfriend, Azra, and kicks out his first wife, Lucija, from his house. His son, Martin, loves his ham radio, runs like Pee-Wee Herman, and has a lot of growing up to do.
I know I have to nitpick because that’s better than fooning and fawning over this film. Watching the petty squabbles of a broken family in the eve of the Bosnian war isn’t for everyone. The conflicts within said family has adequate verbal punch but that action being on the forefront just means that we have to wait and wait for the film denouement. And this isn’t much of a critique but a question whether these characters would have matured if the war didn’t happen. Yet it’s the economy of the script, the loyalties and deep love within each character that makes each minute of this film better than the last.
After the film, Tanovic held a ten minute question and answer period with an engaged audience. The director and his sense of humour asked said audience if his film has a happy ending and was a bit shocked that we said yes. The estranged couple Divko and Lucija settle their scores before the storm has come. Call me a sentimentalist, but that is a happy ending and it’s enough for me to give this movie a 5/5.