THERE are ways to cheat when it comes to intrigue. As far as a political
thriller goes, a backdrop of an African civil strife is
par for the course. The Interpreter invokes as well an
eventful plot, not least of all the intricate staging of a Mexican showdown in a
bus. However, with actors being rather transparent (or just very convincing),
there was never any doubt about who the bad guy is.
On that alone, Sydney
Pollack has failed to deliver. No claustrophobic
paranoia, no sense of danger lurking just
around the corner. No doubt the acting was adequate at worse,
convincing at best and in Nicole Kidman, one is guaranteed a leading lady of
poise, class and ability. One is even saved from romance. United Nations
interpreter Silvia Broome (Kidman) and Secret Service hardnose Tobin Keller
(Sean Penn) slowly learn to trust each other but flames are
smothered before even being ignited.
So, the movie is enjoyable. Until you get to the end of it and realize, there
was no real whodunit appeal at all. Shot in and around the vicinity of the UN
headquarters (Pollack being the first Hollywood director to be allowed to shoot
inside the UN which the grapevine has it that he appealed to United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan in a meeting), it is to Pollack's credit that he
makes you feel that Matobo, the imaginary nation with imaginary oppressor in
question, is never far away.'
And with the current situation in Sudan, Zimbabwe and -- lest our memory
fails us -- Rwanda, it makes The Interpreter a relevant and compelling
watch. Nonetheless, with scenes shot in the hallowed halls of the General
Assembly and Security Council, the 60-year-old building is an immaculately cast
third star of the film. Revelations are revealed as the clock ticks, keeping the
viewer safely in his or her seat but not quite at the edge of it.
The problem is that the movie fails to keep you second-guessing yourself and
concerns itself with building the characters of the two leads. Which is all fine
and good but misses the point itself. We want to bite our nails as we try to
figure out what or who's really behind all this. But you're left stupefied
knowing that you were probably right all along. So much for twists.