The Interpreter Movie Review

Astute moviegoers will recall that this isn't the first time Nicole Kidman has saved the world -- and especially the United Nations -- from destruction. And while 1997's The Peacemaker was a guilty pleasure of high intrigue and adventure, the flaccid The Interpreter doesn't generate half the excitement, kitschy or no.

The contrived setup gives us Nic as one Silvia Broome, a long-time resident of Africa who now makes a living as an interpreter at the UN. The headlines have a hated president from her homeland by the name of Zuwanie who's accused of genocide coming to give a speech to the General Assembly; most observers assume that the speech will save him from being tried for crimes against humanity as he pledges democratic reforms, and so his enemies are -- possibly -- planning to murder him at the podium. Or at least that's what Silvia says, as she overhears a potential plot late one night in her talkin' booth when she returns to the UN to get her "flutes and stuff."

The tension escalates as the Secret Service is brought in to investigate, with Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) not buying any of this. But after -- gasp! -- Silvia spots a creepy guy peering into her window one night, well, things suddenly look pretty serious! Never mind the bomb detonated on a bus in Brooklyn, Nic's in jeopardy, stalked by a peeping tom!

I kid because so much of The Interpreter is so absurd it can't stand up to even the slightest amount of analysis. Why do murderers do their plotting on the floor of the General Assembly with microphones all around? Why are various irrelevant side characters offed one by one? How is it Silvia doesn't get any spam!? Silvia is given so many deep, dark secrets (and shown in such compromising light) we're guessing she's not so innocent by the time the second reel rolls around. When Tobin asks "Are you involved in this!?" for the tenth time we've figured out the answer long before. Predictability and convolution have never intersected so bizarrely.

Credit Kidman for at least imbuing a difficult role with some sense of character, emotion, and backstory. Poor Penn plays Tobin as a pitiful rube and recent widower, a sad sack who perpetually looks like he has no idea what he's doing. Imagine Penn forlornly scouring Iraq in search of WMDs and you'll get a sense for his approach to playing his Secret Service agent. Thank God for Catherine Keener, playing Tobin's partner, whose dour grimaces and deadpan sarcasm (strangely) save the film from being an otherwise humorless and pretentious mess.

Director Sydney Pollack hasn't made a great film since 1985's Out of Africa (ironically), and here he's just rehashing his same old structure (The Firm, Random Hearts) while throwing in a bit of faux contemporary flavor by giving a nod to international politics. Unfortunately he and his crew of five writers have mixed in so many dead ends, missed opportunities, and misguided plot developments that you can't help but be thankful that politics aren't quite as stupid as Hollywood thinks they are.

We're watching you, Mexico!

Comments

The Interpreter Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG-13, 2005

Advertisement

More Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman Is "Baby Crazy" And Would Love To Get Pregnant Again

Nicole Kidman already has a rather busy personal life as she is the mother of four children, Isabella, 21, and Connor, 19 with ex-husband Tom...

Nicole Kidman's Psychologist Father Antony Kidman Dies After Fall In Singapore

Nicole Kidman and her family have been left devastated after the tragic accidental death of her psychologist father Dr. Antony Kidman today (September 12, 2014),...

Colin Firth Returns to Form with Taut Thriller 'Before I Go To Sleep'

It is often said that a good actor is only as the direction that he or she are receiving, or the material from which they're...

Before I Go to Sleep Movie Review

A clever premise can't help but grab the audience's attention as this mystery-thriller plays with ideas of identity and memory, but the simplistic filmmaking makes...

Advertisement

Nicole Kidman Says She Has "Been to Hell and Back" Before Finding Happiness

Nicole Kidman's movie career is nothing short of a success, but the cost of fame and fortune has often left the Australian actress's family and...

UN Women Names Emma Watson As Youngest UN Ambassador

Emma Watson may be just 24, but she is already doing big things with her life, beyond starring in the most successful film franchise of...

'Before I Go To Sleep': Nicole Kidman Is An Amnesiac With A Mystery To Solve In Tense Thriller

All sour memories of Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco are about to be forgotten as she gives an unforgettably unsettling performance in new thriller...

Paddington Bear Makes Debut In Funny New Trailer…Minus His Voice

Missing the lead actor in your movie four months before its release? No problem! As was evidently thought by director Paul King and the makers...

Advertisement