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A Very Safe Movie
daveisit2 May 2005
The Interpreter is an extremely packaged political thriller that contains only a little punch. The main reason I gave it a go was Sean Penn who seems to rarely make mistakes selecting his work. Nicole Kidman can be a mixed bag, and Sydney Pollack a competent seasoned veteran director. All three performed well without setting the screen alight.

The use of the United Nations building was a big plus and definitely gave the movie more realism. It also gave the viewer more of an idea on what a massive organisation the UN is.

Even though "The Interpreter" was enjoyable the ending was definitely a disappointment. It wasn't that it was necessarily wrong, just that you knew what was coming. This was the "Hollywood Factor" showing through. Perhaps the reason it didn't turn into real Hollywood trash was the fact it was filmed and produced in New York.
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Ridiculous Ending Spoils Good Movie
ccthemovieman-122 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Seldom has an ending been so disappointing and ruined a good film as this one.

For most of the way, this was a slick thriller, nicely photographed and nicely acted. Sean Penn is outstanding in here. I like to see him play low-key characters instead of hot-headed sleazeballs. Nicole Kidman also gives a good performance. Sometimes her classic beauty hides the fact she can act.

The story was pretty involving, hard to put down once you've started. My only complaint up to the ending was the obvious plug for the United Nations. This looked a public relations piece for that organization.

However, then came that ending - a real insult to anyone's intelligence. In a nutshell, nobody would go the extremes they went to here to protect a visiting dignitary, using all that manpower and machinery....and then leave him all alone in a room at the end! Are you serious??? It was unbelievably stupid and ruined what had been an entertaining and somewhat- smart film.
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a thought or two on The Interpreter
oddvincent22 January 2007
Last night, I watched The Interpreter, primarily because I wanted to see if Sydney Pollack still had it and in my humble opinion, he does. I don't see too much film-making like this these days. For one thing, it's slow, but in a good way. Too many suspense films speed by at such an absurd rate that there's never any time for a mood to be built or characters to be known. Here, we get to know the characters intimately and are gradually drawn into the complex and compelling and relevant plot. Speaking of relevance, there is, here, a "message", but it's delivered organically by way of carefully structured storytelling and character development, not with a bullhorn and fireworks. Speaking of characters, I love the understated performances in this film by Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman. I love also the moments in this film, such as when Penn's character in a country-western bar unplugs the jukebox to stop the noise of some country-pop crap then restarts it in order to play Lyle Lovett's wonderful "If I Had a Boat" then goes to a pay phone and calls his own house just to hear his wife's voice on the answering machine.

Also, while I have nothing against fast, action-adventure-cartoon-type violence when it's done just right. The violence in this film isn't exciting. It's just as it should be considering the subject matter. It's sad and desolate and when a man speaks his last words to the child-soldier who has just shot him and when a bus is bombed or a desperate man is betrayed and murdered you feel it, the final moments of human lives; a being being taken away. There's room for sentiment in such films and it doesn't have to be sap as it so often is.

I don't follow entertainment news much these days (much as I'd love to) because such stories and reviews and even trailers (which I also used to love watching) give away far too much of the story (which I'm trying here not to do) so I don't know how this film was received, but I hope it did well and if it didn't, I hope audiences come to discover and love it gradually so that there might be more films like it.
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What a disappointment!
zhenca24 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
With all my respect and admiration for the creators of the movie as well as my concern for the topics of political corruption and ethnic conflicts it raises, I must admit ruefully that even the brilliance of Sean Penn's acting (perfect as he always is) couldn't save "The Interpreter" from going flop in every respect.

First comes the poorly written script with artificially forced scenes that totally undermine the credibility of whatever's happening on screen. How on earth could you imagine an opposition leader of an African country, no matter how small, taking a ride on a street-bus and, what is even more bewildering, discussing political dealings and murders in a pure English with his accuser Nicole Kidman, all this with plenty of, one can assume, English-speaking people around them. Another gem of incongruity in the film is leaving the president of a country all by himself right after an assassination attempt and despite all the efforts to protect him from being killed. These are just a few among the abundance of inconsistencies and strained situations in the script.

The directing adds neither credibility nor suspense at all. It is pretty easy to guess the intentions and further actions of the characters because you have seen all these hackneyed plot twists so many times before. No originality, ingenuity, or finesse one would expect from the creator of "Three days of the Condor" comes out in a below the average handling of the plot development.

This all leaves Kidman's attempts at being believable all but successful and, especially so, in the culminating scene. Where it is supposed to be great emotional acme nothing is felt but an insipid taste of "you've guessed it all" disillusion.

What could have become a clever, topical political thriller turned out to be an average Hollywood flick with no power to awake people's hearts and minds or change attitudes to ethnic cleansing and wars in the real world.
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Script Needs Work
director_mitch24 April 2005
I was interested in seeing The Interpreter since it looked like a good adult drama. Unfortunately, the movie has some problems.

The big plus of the movie is Kidman. She is one of those women who actually looks better as she ages, and she is a talented actress. Sean Penn is also a good actor, and both do a great job in the movie.

Unfortunately the good acting can't overcome the weak script. I felt like the story was still a 2-3 drafts short of being ready for the screen. The biggest problem was that there are plot holes you could drive a truck through. I also felt the movie dragged through most of the middle as they tried to develop the strained relationship between the principle characters.

If you are a plot-driven movie fan, as I am, the movie is likely to be a disappointment. If you are a acting-driven movie fan, you will probably like the movie more.
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blackfeather_gr9 April 2005
I had the chance to see this film yesterday at its world opening in Athens,Greece."The interpreter" is a political thriller directed by one of the most suitable filmmakers for this,Sydney Pollack. Nicole Kidman plays the role of a South African-born UN translator who overhears an assassination threat against the dictator of an African country.Sean Penn plays the role of a Secret Service agent,assigned to investigate the case.Soon we find out that the interpreter's past could explain her possible involvement in the conspiracy.So-maybe-not everything is exactly as it seems to be. Both Kidman and Penn give controlled and emotional performances,although intense and powerful on the inside.It's nice to see 2 stars of the value of Kidman and Penn to make these choices in their career and not waste their talent in indifferent projects. In the end the film is not only a political thriller.It is also a story on overcoming personal losses,dealing with the past in a clever,effective way and moving on...
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Kidman & Penn are superb in thriller
dougandwin13 April 2005
Having seen "Mystic River" recently, I was awaiting Sean Penn's next movie with great anticipation as he is one brilliant actor, and when I heard Nicole Kidman was to be his co-star, this was well worth waiting for, and both of them are superb in a very well-constructed movie, with great location shooting in New York. and in particular the United Nations building. Sydney Pollack has produced (and played a small part in it!) an excellent movie, full of intrigue with exciting music and great photography. "The Interpreter" has, by its very nature, been forced to create a new African Nation , rather than single out Zimbabwe for example, and the opening sequences set the mood for a very enthralling 2 1/4 hours. The whole cast is excellent, though made up of relative unknowns other that the two stars. I can recommend this film very highly.
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Humanistic, language-loving political thriller
EThompsonUMD21 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For some time I avoided "The Interpreter," [2005] which sadly was to be the final film directed by recently deceased Sydney Pollack. It received lukewarm reviews in the mass media (although Ebert liked it) and generally unappreciative commentary on IMDb. My avoidance turned out to be a mistake. I have since viewed the film several times on video and have admired it more with each viewing. Yes, the pacing is unusually slow for a political thriller. Yes, the relationship between the leads has a weird chemistry and does not end with the usual Hollywood romantic closure/cliché. Yes, the script is talky, very talky even. And, yes, the plot is hard to follow and has some large plausibility holes, particularly in the film's final sequence.

As it happens, though, only the last of these is truly a "weakness," and then mainly to those unfortunately literal-minded film viewers whose aesthetic pleasures are utterly ruined by "logical" inconsistencies in plot construction or resolution. Would the Secret Service, FBI, and U.N. security staff really leave a nearly assassinated leader of a foreign state unattended in a "safe room" immediately after the event? Certainly not, one hopes. But stranger things have "really" happened in the panic following actual assassinations in 20th century American history. Were that not so, the conspiracy theorists would have much less grist for their mills. Regardless, the flaw in logic just doesn't matter much, for the entire plot to assassinate President Zuwani, the dictatorial and ruthless head of Matobo, a fictional African state, is not only a "con" as one of the FBI officials gathers early on in the investigation, it is also a perfect example of a Hitchcockian Maguffin.

Unlike more intellectually simplistic political thrillers, including Pollack's own genre classic "Three Days of the Condor," "The Interpreter" isn't ultimately about the surface subject of its main plot. The plan to assassinate Zuwanie while he delivers a self-exculpatory speech at the U.N. – i.e. what Silvia Broome hears, or claims to have heard, whispered in Ku on a darkened General Assembly floor – is as much what "The Interpreter" is about as "Psycho" is about the theft of $40,000 or "Casablanca" is about the missing letters of transit signed (with ridiculous implausibility) by General De Gaulle.

What "The Interpreter" is about instead is a rich complex of issues that surround and emerge from the working out of its convoluted plot. Very interestingly, it is about the politics of revolution and betrayal in contemporary Africa (taking its main cue from the horrors in Zimbabwe). It is also about the importance of language and communication in a world where children are armed with AK-47s. The film explores the linguistic workings of the U.N. in loving detail and even takes the time to invent and employ a made-up language (the aforementioned "Ku," which Silvia Broome interprets along with uninvented and un-subtitled French). A key witness in the investigation speaks only Portuguese. Moreover the film's climax, comes not with the expected death of Zuwanie but with his having to read - and choke on - the powerful and inspirational words he wrote before he became like the monsters he beheld. In the next to last scene we hear Silvia's voice-over naming Zuwanie's victims as recorded in detail in her dead brother's notebooks, thereby illustrating another unique power of language: bearing historical witness to atrocity. Most of all, "The Interpreter" is about two characters, Nicole Kidman as U.N. interpreter and Matoban ex-patriot Silvia Broome and Sean Penn as Secret Service agent Tobin Keller, wounded by violence done to loved ones and helping each other resist the desire to subject others or themselves to further violence, "a lazy form of grief" as it is defined in one of the film's many memorable phrases.

Supported by the wonderful Catherine Keener as Keller's torch-carrying partner and Pollack himself as the chief of the Secret Service, Kidman and Penn, two of the finest actors of their generation, offer up their usual first-rate performances here, carrying off five scenes of extended dialog wherein they explore each other's hidden facets and discuss such unlikely but arresting topics as the Ku form of justice and whether wanting someone "gone" is or is not the verbal equivalent of wanting him or her "dead." Personally, I'll take such interruptions in the flow of action over the requisite car chase and explosion scenes any day – although the film does have its own interesting versions of the latter as well. All in all, "The Interpreter" is a film that has been seriously underrated and deserves a look from those who appreciate textured screen writing and subtle acting and who, like me, may have been put off by the film's original reception.
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menkarp9 April 2005
Sidney Pollack has done it again! Movie premiered yesterday in Athens, was among the first to catch it. Nicole Kidman stars as Silvia Broom, a UN interpreter with a dark history behind her. Sean Penn stars as Tobin Keller, government agent in charge of protection of foreign diplomatic missions. The movie is breathtaking, after the third sequence I just sat back and let it carry me away. If you are a fan of good-old 70s spy films, you cannot miss this one. Needless to point out the breathtaking performances of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. The last sequence in the UN is one of the best I have ever seen. Congs to everybody involved (maybe now is the right momentum for a sequel of 3 days of the Condor!).
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A thinking person's thriller
jlowry19 March 2006
Entry to the United Nations headquarters in New York (and being directed by Sydney Pollack) was enough to make Nicole Kidman sign up for this enjoyable, if not a little formulaic, political thriller. Hollywood's golden girl teams up with man of the moment Sean Penn in this well-paced and intense tale which unfolds against a backdrop of international terror and unashamedly draws parallels with the current political situation in Zimbabwe. Kidman adopts a satisfactory South African accent for the role of Silvia Broome, a UN interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate a controversial African leader during his visit to the United States. Penn is Tobin Keller, a Secret Service agent assigned to investigate Silvia's claims and protect her from the assassins. But is Silvia telling the truth? Silvia's life is turned upside down as she becomes a target for the killers but a suspicious Kellar digs deeper into her past in a bid to find out what she is hiding. Pollack (who has a small part in the movie) scored a massive coup when he convinced Kofi Annan to allow filming inside the UN building for the first time. Even Alfred Hitchcock had to improvise when making the classic Cary Grant North By North West. The movie has some very strong opening scenes, shot on location in South Africa, and instantly grabs our attention. When the action moves to New York, Pollack (who brought us Tootsie, Out Of Africa and The Firm) creates an old-whorled vibe with grainy shots more reminiscent of the 70s, deliberately avoiding the neon lights of the Big Apple to create a dulled-down mood that sits much better with the film's content. Kidman and Penn handle their material well, putting in solid performances and the pair square up nicely on screen. Predictably, and annoyingly so, however, a chemistry develops between the two making for some scenes which would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Let's face it, the old adage of two strangers being brought together by circumstance and suddenly being able to open up and shed their baggage has all been done before. The moral of the story is also a little bit too Hollywood. We can admire its good intentions and even buy into the idea that we can change the world with words and diplomacy but it all becomes a bit nonsensical. But it is the movies after all and it's difficult to find fault with Pollack who has opted for a dialect-driven film as opposed to high-octane action scenes - although they do make a welcome appearance as the film reaches its climax. This is the thinking person's thriller and it's definitely worth a viewing.
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It lived up to my expectations
Renaldo Matlin11 April 2005
First of all, it would seem impossible to go wrong with this: you have Sydney Pollack at the helm, the blessings from the United Nations to actually shoot INSIDE the UN building itself (with several key scenes taking place in the general assembly room), all shot on location in the Big Apple, and to top it all off you have the best actress and actor of their generation in the lead! The result is a solid thriller, well sewn together, and veteran director Pollack wraps it all up weary neatly, with no loose ends. Just like he did with other thrillers like the masterful "Three Days of the Condor" and the entertaining "The Firm." I'm not saying "The Interpreter" is on level with those two, but it *is* an entertaining and thrilling two hours (especially a scene involving a bus is quite tense).

In the end I was really left with just one quibble: as things developed the ending really came as no big surprise. Still, that said: it's a political thriller directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. What more could one really wish for?
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Don't bother unless.....
jax71311 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I love thrillers. I love suspense. I very much like Kidman and Penn. And I like Sidney Pollack's work. But this movie has one of the most undeveloped scripts I've ever seen. I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewer who wrote this script was 2 or 3 drafts away from being ready to film. The trailers lead you to believe Kidman is in danger, is running for her life, but the movie never really comes to this. We never see the secret service, the FBI, the CIA, or the local police go through the investigative process that leads to the revelation at the end of the story. In fact, most of the law enforcement personnel is shown as inept or inadequate, except, of course, for Penn. People get shot but you don't know why, I mean really know. Penn tries to do something with his character, but the script doesn't bring him into focus. At times, he has to look at Kidman dreamily only weeks after his wife's death??? How Kidman got into a room alone with the intended target was preposterous. This movie is Not A Thriller, Not Suspenseful. And the ending is a deflated, run-out-of-gas, illogical, incomplete exercise in nothingness. Again, it annoys me to know that people get paid big money to turn out this kind of un-movie, basically a string of scenes revolving around a conspiracy that lacks intelligence and complexity. Don't bother unless you're a big fan of the stars who do what they can with a Mc-script. My two stars are one for each of them for their effort.
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Nicely textured suspense drama with a heart
mstomaso1 May 2005
Sydney Pollak has directed a lot of good films over the last 40 years, and this, though not his finest work, is one. But it's just 'good'. Pollak has a great sense of pacing and character development, and he puts both to work to good effect in this suspenseful high-stakes terrorism drama. Kidman and Penn deliver solid and memorable performances and are joined by an excellent supporting cast. The acting talent, clever though predictable plot, superior production and cinematography, and fearlessly quirky script are what makes this film work, despite a few rather absurd plot points.

Kidman unsurprisingly, dominates the screen with a powerful portrayal of a young South African translator for the UN, who overhears a plot to assassinate the genocidal president of her home country, Motambo. Penn plays a hard-nosed, recently widowed investigator assigned to the case. As the plot escalates, it becomes clear that Kidman herself is also a target and that she has secrets...

There are some problems with believability here. Most glaring is the fact that the intelligence agents and security people investigating Kidman and the plot to kill a genocidal African president in the U.N. are depicted as anything but intelligent. The identity of the perpetrator and the nature of the intended crimes should have been more or less obvious about half-way through the film, and the security team should have had a trap set and armed personnel crawling all over the entire building. It is also unlikely that anybody in Kidman's predicament would have been allowed to continue with unrestricted access to the UN, at virtually any time of day or night, more or less unwatched. And it is even more problematic that somebody with her background should be working at the UN in the first place. The actors' performances and the relationship which develops between the two main characters (which is really at least half the plot) help to gloss over the minor problems and make the film very entertaining and suspenseful. There are also some potentially powerful political messages just below the surface, but I never felt that these messages really emerged, and was left wondering if theyr were simply artistic flourishes or perhaps, posturing.
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Great Cast, good acting, bad plot line
liezell26 April 2005
Being from Africa, I found it highly annoying that they decided to use a fake country name (which of course not a lot of people would know!).

The general idea was great and I love NIcole Kidman, and I was really looking forward to watch this movie. However, after seeing it, I felt a lot more could have been done with this wonderful cast and great idea - a lot was missing and it was pretty predictable.

The sad thing is that there are a lot of children actually walking around with automatic weapons, killing for "lunch money" to survive. The civil wars in Sudan are also very sad, but what is even more sad is that we sit here as bystanders and we don't do anything about it. Yeah, we might complain a little if we hear (or shall I say when we hear/read - because so little is said about it) but then people are more worried about foreign gasoline imports, than they are about human lives in a far away country. All it takes is to contact your local government representative.

While I feel this movie shed a little light on that, and yes I know the story is not about it, the plot could have been more suspenseful and unpredictable.
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Another lame, wannabe thriller that had a lot of promise….....
lotus_chief23 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers

Watching the trailer for 'The Interpreter', I was initially intrigued. I love a good political thriller, and I see Sean Penn and Sydney Pollack involved….I'm game. Never mind Nicole Kidman, I'm not a fan and probably never will be; she just irks me. Anyhow, as much as I liked the trailer, it's VERY flawed in that I basically knew what was going to happen in the film…..namely who the 'bad guy' is. It really spoiled the movie for me. I'm smarter than the average Joe; I can't believe people still fall for the 'oh my goodness, the bad guy is actually the person who appears to be the victim, the good guy!!' twist. It's very lame and overdone. Try something new people! Even so I had to depend on the execution of this to come away satisfied overall. That does NOT happen here….at ALL.

The acting here is good overall, nice cinematography all around, but what absolutely kills 'The Interpreter' is the script. My GOD the script is horrible! My friend sitting next to me asked me if it was written in crayon. It minus well had been written in crayon, because it doesn't get more childish than this. Kidman's character now ranks up there with Monica Bellucci's horrid 'performance' in Tears of the Sun as one of the most annoying characters ever in film; and what pisses me off is that this type of character is getting more and more prevalent in movies like this. From the beginning Kidman's character walks around completely clueless, lying every chance she gets holding information from anyone/everyone who's trying to help her. What killed me was when Penn asked her who she met with in the park and she simply answers, 'it's personal'. I was about to walk out the theater after hearing that. You'd think that in a pressure situation where you had bitched and moaned earlier about possibly not getting any protection, you'd be a LITTLE more cooperative with the people who are now PROTECTING YOU! Who writes this crap? 'It's personal'??? The writers couldn't come up with a better answer than that??? All throughout the movie we gotta sit through the torture of seeing Kidman lie and hide things from the very people she's depending on, like it's a game or something. At one point Penn shows her a picture he found of her and her brother, holding machine guns walking down a street in Africa some time ago. Penn, now expecting her to finally come clean after about 2-3 previous meetings like these (where he uncovers another one of her lies), and the best thing that Kidman could say is…..get this……'that's not me'. WHAT??? What do you mean 'that's not me?' Only after more pressing from Penn does she admit that the woman in the picture (her) isn't the type of person she is now. Penn isn't innocent of corny/lame/pointless dialogue either….as we get the pleasure of going through more of his emotional, 'oh woe is me' soliloquies throughout the film, at times without ANY provocation. I swear in a scene or two they'd be talking about something political or a conspiracy and Penn just bust out talking about his dead wife. Where the hell did THAT come from? And how many more times does the hero/good guy of the film have to be a drunk, never mind the reason?

This movie, running at 2 hrs and 8 mins, could've been cut down by at least 40 minutes easily. By simply doing away with the run-around supplied by Kidman, and lame subtle attempts at a romantic angle….scenes that seem like Pollack was all too happy to film and make the movie drag even more, would have STARTED to make the movie's execution a little better. I say 'started' because the script on a whole is just a total mess. After a while there's just blabbering going on and you don't even care who's who and who's working for this one or that one and he has conflict with him because of someone else's agenda blah blah blah. Other things I didn't like:

  • the bus scene was filmed nicely, but what was REALLY her point of getting on the bus?

  • Who was the assassin who was after Kidman working for?

  • Just why in the hell did she turn on the light in the interpreter's room anyway??

  • You mean to tell me that the whole thing was just faking an assassination attempt in order to get more 'credibility'??

  • Kidman goes through all of this lying and hiding to get to the President, just for him to read a few passages in a book he wrote and that she knows by heart???

  • She attempts to murder an international government figure, and all they do to her is 'send her home'?? Isn't she a citizen of her home country (where she really will be just 'going home'), but also a citizen of the US…where she can be tried and sentenced like any one of us?

I refuse to waste anymore time on this joke of a political thriller…I've wasted enough. I only went to see this because I was taking a friend of mine out for her birthday and this is what she wanted to see. Now I remember why I said I would not be going to the movies for a long while. Total waste of time and money.

* out of **** stars.
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A great plot,great acting and Great film!
fandago20039 April 2005
Having the director decided to release this movie worldwide in Greece I felt in a way obliged to support his decision and go and watch the movie. I must I say I really like movies like this and I was furthermore enthusiastic that Nicole Kidman was starring in that film along with Sean Penn! I enjoyed the direction very much not only because for the first time you could actually see the interiors of the UN building but also because the exterior takes were magnificent as well. As far as the plot is concerned I must say that I was satisfied because there was nothing that you couldn't apprehend and it was very well tight. Don't expect to see an extravagant full of mystery story that will confuse you and mislead you but a storyline that is tight enough and well said. The stars act very well giving their best effort to support the movie except maybe the act of Sean Penn which seemed to me as he was tired throughout the movie but that again may well be justified!!! Overall, I liked the film pretty much.Even though there was not so much action as you may have encountered in other movies(i.e.Enemy of the State) it can been seen without any hesitation and you'll like it in the end. To me it was a nice break from all those action-full of special effects-plot less movies. Besides, the story could become a reality and I like this kind of films!
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Sophisticated debate masquerading as routine thriller.
marykate-28 April 2005
I was unexpectedly moved by this movie. Having settled down for a routine mystery with action and a dash of romance, I was blindsided and found I was in tears for Africa and how the world is turning its back on it. It seems to me that Pollack has cleverly presented an argument for the UN in the guise of a thriller.

The performances are excellent - so understated - maybe the best thing Penn has done - Kidman is pure class as usual.

The thriller plot holds together but it is the underlying themes that gripped me and kept me enthralled. Surely Sydney Pollack is the most versatile and consistently surprising director of his generation in America. I was looking back over his body of work - Jeremiah Johnson, They Shoot Horses, Out of Africa, TWWW, Tootsie, to name a few, Each one is a multi faceted jewel which can be regarded from so many angles and shines from every one. His humour and humanity are second to none.

I imagine the experience of shooting in Africa gave him the depth of feeling for the continent which is evident here.
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Fine performances, weak story
gravity38 October 2005
Director Sidney Pollack has given us some very fine films in the past; THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and TOOTSIE come immediately to mind, and he won an Oscar for OUT OF Africa (although it's not high on my personal list of his films). But not even Mr. Pollack can make a great film without having a script to start with. I think that's the lesson of THE INTERPRETER. There are many things that are just not well thought out here, and the whole suffers as a result.

Penn is great as always, Kidman does a lot with her character, but often they're wandering through the scenes in a story that doesn't seem to know where to go next. Actually the fact the movie makes any sense at all is a credit to Pollack's experience and talent. There are some great ideas here, and there's certainly a level of entertainment achieved; even some thought provoking moments. But it's clear the filmmakers weren't working from a well prepared script. 6 out of 10.
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Nicole and another short leading man.
Simon_peters1 May 2005
I wonder whether this film in the future will be the one regarded as marking the end of Sydney Pollack's career as a serious director. The premise of the story is pathetically incredible, in the true sense of the word - it's unbelievable. Nicole Kidman, an interpreter, alone in the UN, which is shut for the night, overhears a conversation as two men (why are they in the building with all the lights off?) discuss a planned assassination, which happens to be picked up by an open mike (why is it still on?) and transmitted to the one person who can understand the African dialect used - Nicole. Along comes Penn as a secret agent with a recent tragedy to be her interrogator, protector, and, ultimately, saviour. Unfortunately Mystic River was his best performance yet, and, like a dog with a new trick, Penn can't bear to miss the chance to show off his new found skills. The camera lingers longingly on his face as he twitches eyes, lips, nostrils, in a gurnfest the like of which hasn't been seen since the Keystone Cops. Humiliatingly, for the last scene of the film the vertically challenged Penn is perched on a fence in order that he can look Kidman in the eye. Throughout the rest of the film most conversations take place on stairs in an attempt to hide the disparity in their sizes. Pollock awards himself a small part in the film, to save money, he claims, but maybe it's an indication of how much his mind was off the ball in this, his weakest film to date. Just as lunatics should never be put in charge of the asylum, so actors should never be put in charge of a film. Despite the presence of large numbers of producers, and a wealth of experience, Pollock never really manages to reign Penn in. Kidman looks good, but veers alarmingly near the ridiculous with a bizarre accent which ebbs and flows in intensity throughout the film. Most importantly, there is no magic between the two headliners. The photography is excellent, the editing is self indulgent, and arguably the whole thing should have been cut by a reel or two, however the fashion for overblown and overlong films is becoming a real Hollywood disease at present. The fact that the film is using the obtaining of permission to film in the UN as a selling point, betrays, perhaps, the makers lack of confidence in the finished article. Films haven't been trumpeted on the basis of location since the 50's, but then stars were stars, and locations were places where most people hadn't been, now the cinema audience has seen literally everything, but the stars have shrunk in stature, so we have (ex)Mr Madonna working with (ex)Mrs Tom Cruise, working their way through mundane dialogue, in the execution of a terrible story. An evening spent watching this is NOT a night to remember.
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The Interpreter is a very bad TV movie of the week
crisdee22 May 2005
With Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn you'd think the movie would be wonderful. It starts off promising, then quickly goes downhill. Both Kidman and Penn are too "intense," the plot is dull and predictable, and the movie is far too long. At times, you think the movie is going to take an interesting turn, but all that happens is that more unnecessary characters and events are introduced in a lame attempt to confuse the audience and make them forget that they've just wasted nearly two hours of their lives. My date fell asleep two-thirds of the way through the movie. I figured his dreams were better than the movie, so I let him sleep. Wish I'd been smart enough to snore along beside him instead of sitting in my seat starting at the screen and hoping beyond hope that something of interest would occur.
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...preconceived notions would spoil the experience...
pavor nocturnus22 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
...and I had none. Didn't know anything about the movie before I've seen it, so I watched it with an open mind. The storyline is mentioned before, so, to skip the repetition, this is a modern political thriller with a twist. >>> SPOILERS AHEAD <<< First of all, I happened to like the idea that no particular country was mentioned. The plot revolves around the imaginary south-African country, which suffers from the universal tragedy - civil war, ethnic cleansing, dictatorship, torture and death. By not mentioning a particular country, we are better able to apply the principle in general (we recognise the plight of white Africans in Zimbabwe, crisis in Sudan, power-struggle in Congo, liberation and 'liberation' movements across the continent...). Another aspect of the movie that I liked was the intensity. It was a subdued experience, with very little of intense action, such was the blowing-up of a bus (perhaps the only action-movie moment). The characters act in a low-key, and yet express the range of emotions. On very few movements the acting was over-the-top. The whole tone was reminiscent of political movies made during '60s and '70s, with the ideas of balance, political correctness and universal values still being in place. Of course, both the acting and directing showed evolution over the period. Shooting the movie in the UN headquarters was definitely a bonus. In my opinion, and I recognise that not all would agree, the inconsistencies in the plot and directing did not affect the movie. On a contrary, we have a constant feeling that there is something missing, like in the real world where you see only the part of the picture and than struggle to connect the dots. Somebody complained that thing just happen in this movie. Yes, some things just happened, as is the case in real life. The characters are often portrayed as weak, and Sean Penn's character on one instance admits that he had made a mistake (and implies making other mistakes). This was the strength of the movie, and not the weakness. The whole 'bus fiasco' was a replica of a real-life situation, with confusion, happenstance and tragedy. What I didn't like were a few compromises that were made, such as using a couple of common places and repeating stereotypes, but that seemed to be unavoidable. Otherwise, some of the fans would be shied away from seeing the movie (I did like the end - it was the only possible ending, no wedding bells here). Perhaps on some other day I wouldn't be so generous, but today is a good day - Mr. Smith gives it 9/10.
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Disappointing Commercial Thriller
claudio_carvalho30 December 2005
I heard some good comments about this movie from some colleagues, and I bought the DVD really expecting to see great film. Directed by Sydney Pollack and having Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn and Catherine Keener in the cast, I thought that it would certainly be a great political thriller. Unfortunately I was absolutely wrong.

The confused and flawed screenplay does not develop well the characters, the story is very disappointing and commercial and there are very stupid lines, such as when Silvia asks Keller what he does when he can not sleep, and he answers that he stays awake; or when Dot comes to a stripper in a night-club and asks her to not touch the Prime Minister in a lap dance. What about the secret service leaving the menaced president of a country alone in a room after an attempt against his life? Why would a citizen and her president together alone speak in English instead of in their native dialect or language? The conclusion is simply awful and corny, and the alternative ending with worse than the original one. There is a total lack of chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn for the insinuated romance arising between them. Nicole Kidman seems to have fixed the awful plastic surgery of her nose, and is very beautiful again in this flick.

Last but not the least, it is very weird that many favorable reviews are made by users with only one review issued in IMDb, in a type of apparently fake promotion. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "A Intérprete" ("The Interpreter")
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A Great Send-Off In Sydney Pollack's Last Directed Film
eric26200319 June 2016
In his last few outings before his death in 2008, Sydney Pollack has made an abundance of average films. In 2005, three years before his death, Pollack closes up his directing career with a gripping suspenseful eye-opener of movie titled "The Interpreter". The movie itself is saturated with scintillating performances, the characters are sublime and the never once does the viewer's intelligence never gets insulted. The story has a feeling like a modern-day Alfred Hitchcock feeling to it as the suspense will likely keep you intrigued. This is the swan song in Pollack's final directorial project that couldn't have come at a better time.

The story kicks off as United Nations African interpreter Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) was gathering personal apparatuses when she overhears a plot to have her country's president assassinated in which involves a visit from an African dignitary. Fearing her life is in danger, Silvia calls up F.B.I. Secret Service Agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn), who has immediate suspicions about her, but softens up to her knowing there's more to the story than what she's telling him. Fearing her life is in peril, while not telling Keller all the details, Silvia is now in whirlpool of trouble as the dignitary is coming to her neck of the woods in a matter of days.

Though aging and not in the best of health at the time, we wondered if Pollack still had in him. The man brought us "Out of Africa" has made come back to the thriller genre which stapled his career to exceptional fame with films like "Three Days of the Condor" and "The Firm". As the years gone by, Pollack's directed has fizzled with mindless drivel like "Random Hearts". But not here in "The Interpreter", he sails away nicely with an exciting thriller that will likely keep you on your toes.

In the world of movies where the young is dominant, this 71-year old utilizes his dedication and his audiences respect and his clever pacing while refraining from spoon-feeding every detail that comes onto screen. This is a great way to show that for a thriller it's neither mindless drivel or a half-baked effort even if it won't garner any Oscars. Even though the thrills are the key component to this film, "The Interpreter" has a well developed characters that sort of grow onto you as the film progresses. Pollack has good timing when it comes down to boiling points as to when the plot thickens and the suspense level gets more under your skin. This results in the performers to actually get a better enhancement on the characters they're portraying making them all the more crowd pleasing rather than predictable and one-dimensional. This is truly one of Pollack's best directing projects in a long time where suspense, pathos, and perpetual unsettling the whole way through.

The most important scenes that deserves the utmost attention comes from the scenes emanating from the bus. Without giving away spoilers, the ingredients to an outstanding thriller we have an interpreter who heard too much, distressed politicians, overwhelmed F.B.I. agents, and top that all off with explosives in a tight moving surface. These set pieces are what makes this movie all the more special. This scene alone is worth the price of admission.

As Silvia, Kidman has proved she's one of the best performers in the industry today, even in non-Oscar caliber films. Her vast versatility speaks volumes with her movie-star hair even down to the African accent, we get lost in her role she plays as we question what allegiance she truly represents and we begin to trivialize whether her innocence is coincidental or if there's more than meets the eye. Kidman keeps the mysterious level in her character throughout and never lets it go and continually gives Penn's character more in doubt of what she really stands out for. Penn has a more difficult job at hand and his expressions speak louder than what it seems. This gives Penn more of a good excuse to get more inquisitive with Silvia and to find newer hooks to further enhance his character's drive. With the assistance of a wonderful script by Martin Stellman and Brian Ward, Penn and Kidman could still turn an average film into something provocative and through the direction of Pollack, this mediocre thriller has enough spark to keep the thriller aficionado enlightened but never insulted.

With the remarkable cinematography under Darius Khondji, "The Interpreter" is pure eye candy along with all the other parts of the anatomy that will have you tingling with excitement. It's nice to see Pollack back in his thrilling force. Though in the last years in life he did production, this movie was truly his last moment to shine and couldn't have come at a better time. A big salute to a career for the director Sydney Pollack.
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OK to pass the time.
OllieSuave-00721 August 2014
I saw this movie while on a plane and it was an OK way to pass the time on a long flight. It's a movie about a United Nations interpreter who overhears an assassination plot, prompting a depressed Secret Service agent to protect her.

This movie lacks action and adventure and instead relies on its suspense and drama to make it entertaining. I thought Nicole Kidman pulled off her role very well, adding to the suspense which builds as the movie goes on. The complexity and the chaos unfolds as the plot gains momentum and, as a result, you have a pretty neat political thriller that gives the audience a somewhat inside look at the United Nations, the power it possesses and the potential abuse of power it could unleash.

Overall, it's not a bad movie. It could have been more captivating given the potential the script had to offer and some added action and adventure would have made this a more exciting film.

Grade C+
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Another classic by Nicole Kidman
sarahmoloughlin18 April 2005
Sylvia Broom (Nicole Kidman) an interpreter at the UN overhears someone giving a threat for the assassination to an African dictator .Her only problem is the person who i trying to protect her, Tobin Kellar (Sean Penn) believes that she made the whole story up and that she was trying to get attention.

This Drama,Action and thriller is different to many other of Nicole's precious movies but will be remembered for ever. Nicole's struggle with the South African/American accent lost her the 10 stars but was very enjoyable. It would be very difficult for many young teens to understand this, but for those who do you'll love this film.Make sure you go to the toilet before watching this movie. It goes for two and a half hours and to understand it, you must be thinking the whole way through.
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