232 – The Interpreter

An U.N. interpreter (Nicole Kidman) for a small African nation overhears what she believes are plans to assassinate the leader of her country. Her case is assigned to the Secret Service’s Dignitary Protection group, which must decide whether her claims are accurate – or if she’s in on the conspiracy herself.

Sydney Pollack’s political thriller is a taut, knowing mystery up to the very end, buoyed in no small part by electrifying perfomances by Kidman and Sean Penn (as Agent Keller), clearly at the top of their game. And unlike other action thrillers, the plot does hold up to close scrutiny.

Kidman, raised an Aussie, is completely believable as the African interpreter from the (fictional) country of Matobo; her accent never seems to slip even a whit. Her Silvia Broom is cool as ice, belying the chaos in her personal and professional life. By contrast, Penn’s Keller wears his heart on his sleeve, still shellshocked from the sudden death of his wife just a few weeks earlier.

Keller doesn’t believe Silvia at first, especially when she admits she’s no big fan of Zuwanie, her country’s president, but it’s quickly obvious that someone means to do the leader harm, and Keller can’t help but try to look beneath the calm surface of Silvia’s tortured soul.

The movie is well paced, with few letups and few obvious scenes; it’s not wholly unpredictable, but even when things aren’t what they seem, they’re not what they seem. You know what I mean? “Oh ho!” you say. “This is one of those movies in which people doublecross each other, right? So this person will do THIS…” And then it turns out you guessed wrong. It’s that kind of movie.

Interestingly enough, part of the movie was filmed in the actual United Nations. I’m all for the occasional movie being filmed in heretofore forbidden places, as long as the product is worthy of the honor (I seem to recall Moscow’s Red Square being the location for Red Heat, sadly), and this one really meets that high standard.

Of course, if you’ve watched a lot of movies, it’s quite possible you’ll figure out some of the ending before you reach it, but the fun is in getting there. This is among the finest work for Penn, Kidman, and Pollack, a twisty political-intrigue movie you can really sink your teeth into. It’s a full notch above most of its ilk (like, say, Enemy of the State), at the same level of such seventies thrillers as The French Connection and The Parallax View.

The Interpreter: ***1/2

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: