The Interpreter

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The Interpreter
Review (5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)


The Interpreter stars Nicole Kidman as a United Nations interpreter named Silvia Broome, who is at the office late one night when she hears voices talking in a rare language known as Ku. The voices discuss a plot to assasinate the African dicatator named Zuwanie, inside the United Nations. Zuwanie, the dictator of Matobo, will be speaking to the General Assembly to defend his policies but many people see him as a murderer and many more people want him dead. Silvia reports the conversation she heard to the authorities and she has a handful Secret Service agents assinged to protect both her and Zuwanie (when he arrives in New York). Two of those agents include Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) and Dot Woods (Catherine Keener) and when Keller interrogates Silvia he thinks she is being vague about her past history in Zuwanie's country of Matobo. Keller believes that Silvia is more involved in the assasination plot than she is letting on but their characters still develop a close friendship because both Silvia and Keller are tragic characters and feel an immediate bond. As the assassination date nears and more of Zuwanie's detractors emerge from the woodwork, the plot thickens and a roller coaster ride of a movie ensues that is, from what I understand, thrilling for some and not so thrilling for others.

I remember hearing about The Interpreter a bit more than a year ago when a location scout approached me in the establishment in which I work, looked around and told me it was perfect for a scene in a Sydney Pollack movie starring both Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman that was being shot in Toronto. Unfortunately, I got a call a short time later informing me that they had decided to shoot the entire movie in New York so my chances of meeting Nicole Kidman, sweeping her off her feet and running away to Australia with her were dashed rather quickly. Nevertheless, I still looked forward to seeing The Interpreter because of the big Hollywood names associated with the movie and the hopes for a wonderful political thriller. Well, I am sad to report that I must have missed the roller coaster ride on this one because the movie was nothing of a thrilling ride for me.

Yes, the movie had some outstanding moments - the opening scene and the bus ride sequence were both outstanding. And Kidman was great, although not a role worthy of her usual Oscar nomination. Penn played yet another scowling, emotionally scarred, humourless character and left me wondering if, at this point in his career, he is capabale of playing anything else. But really, depite a few exciting scenes and some fairly decent acting, I found The Interpreter to be slow at times, confusing at others, fairly predictable and pretty anti-climatic, when all was said and done. And besides all that, the fact that a murdering dictator, accused of genocide and carrying his own gun in the U.N., was allowed to fly into New York City and walk into the United Nations and speak his mind and spew his bullshit and have American authorities protect his sorry ass, well, that just didn't go over too well with me. I suppose I understand the reasoning behind this happening (the Secret Service basically conceded that the world hates America and having a dictator assasinated on their own soil wouldn't make them look any better) but still, it didn't make me feel any better about the movie or even care for that matter.

The Interpreter is being sold as a suspenseful political thriller but for the most part, it is neither suspenseful nor thrilling. In fact, after a tense opening scene (that I'm not even too sure what significance it had for the rest of the movie) The Interpreter becomes slow and tedious and never really consistently recaptures the feeling of that introduction. In the end, The Interpreter is at best a mediocre movie that might be worth a single viewing at some point in your life but I wouldn't recommend rearranging your schedule to see this yawner.

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