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'The Whistleblower': Poster child for the middlebrow?

August 13, 2011 |  6:00 am

Rachel Weisz in 'The Whistleblower'
When "The Whistleblower" opened last week, the Rachel Weisz-starring drama about a United Nations peacekeeper who uncovers a sex-trafficking ring in the Balkans received mixed reviews from the critics. Could that be because of an aversion to the middlebrow?

Unlike highbrow art films and lowbrow gross-out comedies, middlebrow fare such as "The Whistleblower" and "The Help" is finding fewer champions these days, according to Stephen Farber, a film critic for the Hollywood Reporter.

Although Farber finds "The Whistleblower" to be a "potent drama ... anchored by a brilliant performance by Rachel Weisz," others are not so pleased. Writing in The Times, Mark Olsen calls the film "too well-intentioned for its own good." Stephen Holden in the New York Times decries its "choppy, fumbling screenplay ... that lurches between shrill editorializing and vagueness while sorting through more characters than it can comfortably handle or even readily identify." And the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern minces no words in labeling the film "clumsily didactic and flat."

So what's really at play here -- less-than-adequate filmmaking or a case of reviewers predisposed to not like a film that is neither high art nor low humor, but something that aspires to mere goodness?

Let us know what you think in the comments, some of which will be included in next Sunday's L.A. Times.

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-- Scott Sandell

Photo: Rachel Weisz in "The Whistleblower." Credit: Sophie Giraud / Samuel Goldwyn Films


 
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