The Interpreter (12A)

Written by Martin Stellman and Brian Ward, Directed by Sydney Pollack
On general release from 15th April 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

What do a call a film that is structurally a thriller, but has boring characters, a pointless plot and no suspense? Well, you can call it a 'cash-in' if it has bankable names like...I don't know...Nicole Kidman or Sean Penn for instance. But how about a 'snoozer'? Yeah, that seems to fit.

Most of The Interpreter is set in the real United Nations building, and is about as exciting as that sounds. It's like being dragged round an important building on a school trip. The teacher struggles to impress you with all the little historic details, but you're too busy watching your enthusiasm for life slip away.

Very early on it becomes clear that the plot is fatally flawed. An idealistic interpreter (Kidman) overhears a plot to bump off a nasty African dictator - for whom read Robert Mugabe. But if a character is universally hated then no-one is going to shed a tear if he dies. Anyway, a weary intelligence officer (Penn) is assigned to the case, despite the fact that his wife has died and he can't really look after himself properly. So why this contrived set-up? Well…y'know…they might get together or something. Spare us.

It's hard to believe that this is the same Nicole Kidman who has made such brave career choices as The Hours, Birth and Dogville in the not too distant past. It's even harder to believe that this is the same Sean Penn who is heroically failing in The Assassination of Richard Nixon at a cinema near you. Maybe he just signed up for this snoozer because he needs to finance an exciting, radical project of his own. Yes, that'll be it.

Printer friendly page