Lost in Translation
Translator Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) is working at the United Nations in New York City where the U.N. is debating indicting Edmond Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), president of Matobo who was once a liberator of people but now is seen as a tyrannical dictator responsible for various atrocities including ethnic cleansing. When Silvia over hears some thing spoken in a rare Matobo dialect she realises that Zuwanie may be the focus of an assassination attempt but also discovers that she is in danger due to what she heard. But when Silvia reports what she heard to the U.S. Secret Service she finds herself under suspicion herself especially by troubled agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) who is assigned to protect her.
Whilst some might have seen the combination of director Sydney Pollack alongside actors Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn as tantalising I actually saw it as off putting especially when associated with a political thriller. The irony is that "The Interpreter" probably worked better for me than those salivating at the prospect of Pollack directing Penn and Kidman. I say that because "The Interpreter" ends up not the laborious and dialogue heavy movie I anticipated but just a typical one which I will tell you now is 75% ordinary and then a final 25% which tries to be different.
So with that in mind what we get during the first three quarters of "The Interpreter" is typical of the genre when made to appeal to the masses. We have some danger as the character of Silvia finds herself being closely followed by a diplomatic car as she rides her scooter through NYC which when you think about it is ridiculous. We also have some suspicion as agent Keller doesn't believe that Silvia is as innocent as she seems especially when her past is uncovered as she was born in Matobo. On the subject of Keller he is your generic, troubled man with a failed relationship/marriage which he is dealing with whilst staring in to a whisky glass. All of which is so mainstream typical that it is forgettable and I can see how it would be disappointing for those who saw Pollack's name alongside that of Kidman and Penn and expected more. That more does come during the final quarter and it makes staying with "The Interpreter" almost worth while.
Part of the trouble with "The Interpreter" is Nicole Kidman and I am not sure whether back in 2005 she was just ridiculously beautiful or that the make-up team interfered too much so that in every single scene she looked gorgeous, even when a hair is supposedly out of place or she is splattered in blood she looks stunning. It becomes too much of a distraction when the blueness of her eyes against the glowing blonde hair is more attention grabbing than what is going on in the scene. In a way it is the same with Sean Penn as his look is too manufactured to feel right although to be frank he along with the rest of the cast end up dominated by Kidman's beauty.
What this all boils down to is that "The Interpreter" ends up a solid, typical thriller which for some will disappoint whilst for others who suspected something much heavier will be a pleasant surprise although not an overly memorable one.