Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Interpreter (2005)

Good grief.

The Interpreter goes off the rails - twice - in its last minutes.

How sad this is the last feature helmed by American director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa). He made some fine films that will stand up well. The Interpreter is best forgotten.

This suspense film has potential.

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) has experienced violence in the African country where she lived. She is an interpreter at the United Nations, the only place where she believes real change can happen.

Cue the first head-scratching scene, which becomes even odder when more becomes known later in the film.

Broome returns to work to pick up items she has forgotten - and hears a conversation of a planned assassination of the leader of the country where she once lived.

What's strange here is the United Nations building appears completely empty. Dark corridors, no staff around. Does no one clean this meeting place at night? Security guards keeping an eye on things? The timing is impeccable too for Broome to show up just as nefarious plans are being discussed.

Enter Tobin Keller (Sean Penn), the government agent assigned to probe what Broome reports what she heard. He's skeptical. There is, surprise, surprise, conflict when Broome and Keller meet for the first time.

Keller has just lost his wife. She was having an affair with a man. The pair died in a collision. Broome is mourning the loss of her family to violence back home.

Someone wants Broome dead. That seems a bit odd when she's already reported the planned killing to the authorities. What else is she going to do? Grab a gun and kill the perpetrators themselves?

There's a nice buildup of tension heading into the African leader's speech at the UN. What a shocker it is when a crazy plot twist left this movie fan slack-jawed. I thought the alternate ending offered on the DVD would offer a more plausible finale. No. Incredibly, it's even more far-fetched than the theatrical version.

The Interpreter is a good-looking film, but the late twists in its plot make it unbearable to watch.

RATING: 4/10

FUN FACTS: Earl Cameron, appearing here as Zawanie, was the Prince of Ardentia in Flash Gordon and Katanya in raiders of the lost ark. How many actors can claim to have "Death to Ming" on their resumes?

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