Kidman, Penn make good team in ‘Interpreter’

Allan Lamb

“Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?” Nicole Kidman translates it all in

The Interpreter.

Credit: Beth Rankin

If you like Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn or suspense thrillers, The Interpreter will not disappoint.

Whatever your reason for seeing the movie, it finds its power in its uniquely interesting plot.

Nicole Kidman is Silvia Broome, an interpreter of the African language Ku at the United Nations headquarters in New York. She overhears a plot to assassinate Edmond Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), president of the made-up nation of Matobo. I’m not really up-to-speed on African history, but I think he’s supposed to be Nelson Mandela.

She tells her higher-ups who put Agent Keller (Penn) in charge of investigating her claim. They find out two rivals of Zuwanie are conspiring to assassinate him at the UN while he makes excuses for all of his war crimes against his own people, not to mention that Silvia has her own vendetta against him. And the suspense only keeps building from there.

If the plot sounds familiar, the premise is not where the uniquity lies. It’s all in the details, which would give away too much if I shared.

As for Kidman and Penn, if you’re expecting some chemistry between the two stars, you’ve got it. They work very well together, at least as an acting team. Their characters clash several times in the story, which forces them to unveil their secret pasts to each other. And for the better of the film, it’s not taken to a romantic level.

It’s rather sickening how Hollywood thrillers insist upon trying to fit romance into a plot that just doesn’t call for it. Kudos to director Sydney Pollack and the writers for straying from this dead end.

One drawback to the film is that Pollack finds it necessary to jump back and forth 20 times a minute in scenes of greater suspense. But rather than adding to the suspense, these jump cuts are very headache-inducing.

However, Pollack manages to keep his camera still, for the most part, during two chase scenes and a murder attempt on Kidman’s character.

Ultimately, Pollack does an excellent job with the rest of the scenes, especially during the build-up to an exploding bus. He also, as usual, lets the leads play their roles they way they know how, giving them a chance to show their real talent.

The Interpreter is so far the best suspense thriller of the year, and it will make you glad you only speak one language.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Allan Lamb at [email protected].