The circumstances of her accidental eavesdropping are alittle suspect as well -- she just happened to be in a sound booth lateat night, where a microphone inexplicably left on just happened to pickup a conspiratorial conversation in a regional dialect she and only a handfulof others speak outside of the fictional African country of her birth.
Couple this with a covered-up past of rebel activity aimedat the dictator she claims will be targeted during an controversial upcomingaddress on the floor of the U.N., and it's no surprise that the SecretService agent assigned to investigate (Sean Penn) finds her revelationto be dubious at best.
Although the milieu is unusual, "The Interpreter"is largely a variation on a standard Hollywood template about a broodingcop assigned to protect a pretty witness. With a less talented cast anda less interesting director than Sydney Pollack ("Havana," "TheFirm"), it could have easily been dumbed down into an action moviecocktail with a romantic chaser.
But Kidman and Penn vividly yet gracefully charge theircharacters with resonant emotional distress -- both due to devastatingrecent deaths of loved ones -- that comes into play as explosive new threatsmanifest, skeletons are forces out of closets and scarring psychologicaltwists turn inside out the specter of an assassination at the United Nations.
More significantly, the U.N. isn't just a backdrop. (Noris it a set -- for the first time, the world body allowed filming in itschambers, which makes a significant atmospheric impact.) Pollack infusesthe film with a dizzyingly authentic sense of political instability inthe world. Not only the lives of the characters hang in the balance here,but also entire nations and their peoples. This approach also affords thefilm an interesting underbeat regarding the political perception of race.Kidman's character is white, obviously, but her identity is entirely wrappedup in the subsistence of her African homeland and its culture.
Her work as an interpreter isn't as well developed, andit's just such vagaries that lead to suspension of disbelief problems inthe film's climax. Suffice it to say all-access passes seem suspiciouslyeasy to come by at the U.N.
But despite inherent implausiblities, the tension in thesescenes is increasingly gripping and increasingly driven by passion ratherthan conspiracy, which makes the characters and underlying themes seemall the more true, even if actual events are considerably harder to believe.
Run time: 128 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd April 2005
Box Office USA: $72.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $162.9M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Working Title Films, Misher Films, Mirage Entertainment, StudioCanal, Motion Picture JOTA Produktions
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 84
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Nicole Kidman as Silvia Broome, Sean Penn as Tobin Keller, Catherine Keener as Dot Woods, Jesper Christensen as Nils Lud, Yvan Attal as Philippe, Earl Cameron as Dr. Zuwanie, George Harris as Kuman-Kuman, Michael Wright as Marcus, Clyde Kusatsu as Police Chief Lee Wu, Eric Keenleyside as Rory Robb, Hugo Speer as Simon Broome, Maz Jobrani as Mo, Yusuf Gatewood as Doug, Curtiss Cook as Ajene Xola, Byron Utley as Jean Gamba, Robert Clohessy as FBI Agent King, Terry Serpico as FBI Agent Lewis, Vladimir Bibic as G.A. President
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