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:: The Interpreter

Sydney Pollack’s latest thriller delves into the world of international politics with its main character, the United Nations headquarters in New York at its forefront (and yes it was the first film ever to be granted access to film there).

Roaming around in the U.N. after hours (well, actually picking up her flute) African-born U.N. translator Sylvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) overhears a death threat from her booth in her native language ‘Ku.’ After some deliberation and at the risk of her life, Sylvia decides that she must alert the appropriate authorities as the alleged threat targets an African leader from her native Matobo. Reluctantly, federal agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) is assigned to her case questioning her allegations, her motives and her past.

As the threats start to become a reality Tobin must learn to trust Sylvia and save her from a past she wishes to seek vengeance for, especially as it becomes clearer that the two seemingly unrelated events have become inextricably intertwined.

At about two and a half hours a great deal of patience is required in this well-constructed and plot-heavy thriller that is certain to pay off. Its second half filled with tension, conspiracy and explosions aplenty is sure to please.

A solid and sound story is delivered with controlled performances from Kidman and Penn. Kidman’s convincing portrayal of the African interpreter is possibly her best since The Hours, having perfected and mastered the fictitious ‘Ku’ language and grasping the lonely and desperate world which was Sylvia past, now filtering into her present. Penn seems tired (with acting or the character?) although slips into what could have possibly been a conventional tortured cop role and sometimes lazily gives him heart and soul. But even Penn’s lazy and tired cop is great acting.

The one minor fault with the film is the development of Sylvia’s and Tobin’s relationship which unfortunately goes down the obvious path. Although it is understood that for each character to trust the other a bond must be formed but this bond perhaps could’ve been a little more restrained/understated? Oh and another one, (ok so there are two) is the overuse of flashbacks from Sylvia’s past, I think we get the point and one of the final scenes on the bench is milked dry which again seemed to go on a bit (ok, three).

Pollack does seem to be the master of suspense and surprise with stand out scenes in Matobo (fictional country) with the terrorist attack on Sylvia’s brother and company at the football stadium and the explosive bus scene in New York which is brilliant, and the unexpected final showdown at the United Nations. All loose ends neatly tied together and unexpectedly so.

The Interpreter is a film that looks beyond being “lost in translation” and digs beneath the surface to find a common goal.