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Rachel Weisz in 'The Whistleblower.' Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Selling a movie shedding light on the crime of sex trafficking is a tough challenge. But British actress Rachel Weisz gives such an effective performance in The Whistleblower that it can only help the film’s chances at the box office when it opens on Friday (August 5).

In a film inspired by real-life events Weisz plays Nebraska police officer Kathy Bolkovac, who takes a job as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. While there she discovers a harrowing hidden world of young girls being enslaved and exploited. Many of the crimes were committed — or enabled — by men within her own ranks who had been sent to Bosnia to maintain peace and order.

The film could have lapsed into being a standard agenda film designed to heighten awareness of awful crimes, but it plays as a taut thriller. Much of the credit is due to Rachel Weisz.

As Weisz sees it: “It’s about a situation that’s actually happening. To me that makes it only more interesting that it’s a thriller that’s shedding light on something that’s true.”

But will the film help bring relief to young girls who are the victims of human trafficking? Weisz has clear views on that subject: “I really don’t see that as part of my job in any way. Whether something affects change or not is just outside of my job description. If it inspires people that’s a wonderful thing.”

Forty-one-year-old Weisz won an Oscar five years ago as a human rights activist in the film The Constant Gardener. Although there’s tremendous respect for her within the industry, she hasn’t had a big commercial hit for quite some time.

I asked how much she thinks about maintaining her currency in an industry that really prizes youth. She told me: “I just keep acting. I just do jobs that I’m interested in. I don’t know how to maintain currency. That is up to everybody else.”

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By Tom Brook