2 out of 10


Another Dull Non-Event At The UN

Forgetting her bag at the UN, white African-born Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) returns and inadvertantly overhears words indicating an assassination plot being hatched on the otherwise dark and empty floor of the General Assemby. Notifying the Police, she is shadowed by Tobin Keller (Sean Penn). Despite attempts on her life, Keller has only a mandate to protect the dignatories and begins to turn up troubling facts in Silvia's own past that make him suspicious of her testimony.

Like the UN itself, the "Interpreter" is an excellent example of how committees can achieve only a fraction of what one inspired mind can do. Despite the screenplay having had an incredible FIVE WRITERS to develop it, it is chillingly dry and boring. Indeed, for an action movie, there is a remarkable lack of action in it. With a budget of $80million, director Sydney Pollack, should have been able to achieve something both exciting and caryying a powerful message, but instead, most of the story is about the dull relationship between the interpreter and the police officer which goes nowhere. All that seems to happen is that Sean Penn keeps running up and down stairs and wagging his finger at Kidman as he demands, "Why were you lying?" with always the same stern look. Sadly, the veteran of too many war movies as the GI Joe grunt in the front line, Sean Penn seems to have difficulty in playing anything else. He permanently looks as if he's about to have rifle put in his hand and be sent into action against the Japs.

Having worked with producer/director Pollock before on the brilliant "Birthday Girl" and the Academy Award-winning "Cold Mountain" where he was executive producer for both, Kidman was clearly happy to join this project. Regrettably, with the baleful "Bewitched" DVDs still gathering dust, unopened in the Blockbuster "For Sale" bin, "The Interpreter" is the movie that Kidman's career deeply didn't need. With almost no on-location shooting in Africa, nearly the entire flick is shot on the cheap in the streets of New York, in her apartment and at the UN building, allowing no depth to any character other than a few emotional words and a couple of wrinkly photos.

Being the only film to have ever had permission to be filmed at the actual General Assembly itself, it can be safely said that the UN's only involvement in motion pictures is only beaten by its attempts at peacekeeping for ineptitude. Apparantly missing the cutting room entirely, it stumbles on for a mind-numbing 2 hours and 8 minutes of raw tedium. Maybe if we had not seen Broome actually overhearing the conversation there might have been some suspense, but why the "The Interpreter" was made at all is the only mystery here. Not only is it dull and boring, but it is hard to see it sending any sort of political message when it is centred on Matobo, an African banana republic that doesn't even exist.

Finishing with a twist that's a total cop-out, "Interpreter" left me still waiting for the main action to start as the end titles rolled, leaving the best thing about the film to be the poster.

Less fun than reading a 300,000-word UN policy draft on caramel imports

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett