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The  Interpreter

The Interpreter

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.


     
par for the course   If a type of behaviour, event or situation is par for the course, it is not good but it is normal or as you would expect
     
claustrophobic   describes a place which is small and enclosed, and makes you feel uncomfortable when you are in it
     
lurk around   To exist unobserved or unsuspected
     
smother   to stop a fire from burning by covering it with something which prevents air from reaching it
     
     
 
 
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