Friday, April 15, 2005

THE INTERPRETER - over-reaching ambition sinks this thriller

THE INTERPRETER is the worst of all things - an over-long, flabby, dull thriller that fails to excite, enthrall or build up any tension. The idea is that Nicole Kidman is a translator at the United Nations building in New York. One night she overhears a plot on the life of an African president. She goes to the police with this, but comes under suspicion herself. So the movie becomes a bog-standard whodunnit, albeit with pretensions at more overt political subject matter, which it largely manages to dance around. For me, this movie was a noble failure. Despite the great photography of the United Nations building, I kept being brought out of the movie by three things. First, Sean Penn's hammy acting (he seems to be turning into a parody of himself, much like Al Pacino). Second, Nicole Kidman's fluctuating South African accent. One cannot help but wonder how far the film's credibility would have been improved if they had cast Charlize Theron - a brilliant actress who is actually South African. Third, there are a number of plot points, which if not exactly plot holes, certainly stretch credulity. These include who has access cards to different parts of the UN, why a President at risk of an assassination attempt would be left alone, how come Sean Penn can get in the safe room with just a key....And don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of the ending. Nicole Kidman used to be a flag for a good film - I almost always trusted that if she had opted to be in a film then it had a good script and production team. But it seems that of late her radar has been off and THE INTERPRETER only confirms my view. So, as much as it pains me to say this of a Sydney Pollock movie starring Penn, Kidman and Catherine Keener, this is probably one to avoid.

THE INTERPRETER is on global release.

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