"Suspenseful Look into International Politics"
What You Need To Know:
THE INTERPRETER does not talk down to its audience, which is what makes it such a satisfying, rare experience. The characters are realistic, and the plot is extremely suspenseful. There’s little objectionable content aside from a handful of obscenities and some realistic violence, but the situations are still too complex and intense for older children. Silvia and Agent Keller each have an opportunity to indulge in revenge, but they deny it. Essentially, THE INTERPRETER is an excellent and moral cat-and-mouse chase with the intriguing backdrop of international politics and genocide. Containing only minor elements to distract, this movie should appeal to a broad swath of people looking for thoughtful entertainment.
(BB, H, L, VV, N, A, MM) Moral worldview which desires truth, peace and justice, with light humanist viewpoint that thinks all problems can be solved by man and puts some faith in cultural traditions instead of God; six obscenities (no ‘f’ words) and three profanities; children execute men on warlord’s order, bus explodes, assassin preemptively shot, man held at gunpoint, shots fired, men find corpses of genocide victims, man’s corpse seen after suicide, and man stabbed (nothing shown); brief scene in strip club, but dancers are wearing clothes; alcohol in bar; and, corrupt African government manipulates the U.N., lying and woman considers taking revenge on her enemies.
THE INTERPRETER is a tightly directed, extremely successful thriller reminiscent of some of Sydney Pollack’s highly enjoyable movies from the 70s. Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, a U.N. translator who becomes unwittingly involved in a plot to assassinate a genocidal African leader. Sean Penn is Secret Service agent Tobin Keller, who is trying to unravel the mystery of who wants to kill the African leader, who is trying to harm Silvia, and if Silvia is telling the truth.
Leaving work one night, Silvia overhears two men whispering about a plan to shoot an African president who will be speaking before the U.N. General Committee in the coming weeks. The African is widely known as a genocidal dictator, so his visit is attracting lots of attention. Because Silvia was born in the country where the leader presides, her story is regarded with suspicion, and Agent Keller is particularly doubtful.
When the assassins begin trying to silence Silvia, she can’t worry about protecting herself because she is too involved in the situation. She wants to help the African country in question, but she also wants to find out where her brother is, since he might have been abducted by the dictator. Silvia, the Secret Service, the African dictator, and the dictator’s political competitors each have a different agenda, and they are about to butt heads.
Director Sydney Pollack maintains suspense throughout the movie like a true master, but it’s more than a guessing game, since he makes the audience feel tense. All suspense movies want us to care what happens next, but Pollack wants us to think it’s important, too. THE INTERPRETER does not condescend or talk down to its audience, which is what makes it such a satisfying (and rare) experience. The plot twists are easy enough to follow, but the dialogue and the characters are realistic, not the cookie-cutter abstractions to be found in bloated action movies. Therefore, this one is a reassuring statement that movies can be exciting without being cheesy or stupid.
Here’s another factor to make this movie a rare experience: there is little objectionable content. There is a handful of foul language, but it is paltry compared to most action or suspense movies. Some people are shot, but the violence is not gory, nor is it gratuitous. The villains are clearly evil people committing evil acts. There are no sex scenes, but there is a visit to a club where the dancers are clothed, not nude.
Silvia and Agent Keller are driven by a desire to find truth and restore justice. Each of them has an opportunity to indulge in revenge or break the rules, but they deny the temptation. Further, Silvia wants to see her home country restored to benevolent, unselfish leadership. Breaking from traditional Western and Christian thought is Silvia’s anecdote about the tribal custom of never speaking the names of the dead, although at the end of the movie, she revises her thoughts on the custom. At that point, both she and Agent Keller make peace with the deaths of their loved ones.
Essentially, THE INTERPRETER is an excellent cat-and-mouse chase with the intriguing backdrop of international politics and genocide. With only minor elements to distract from enjoying the movie, it should appeal to a broad swath of people looking for thoughtful entertainment.