The Interpreter


Time Out says

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) is a translator at United Nations HQ in New York. One evening, she’s working late and overhears a sinister conversation filtering through the main chamber’s microphone system: there’s a plot afoot to assassinate Edmund Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), the reviled president of  the African state of Matobo, who is due to make a controversial visit to the UN within days…
Who you gonna call? Enter the Secret Service and hard-boiled, recently bereaved special agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn), a man who wears conspicuous dark glasses and has a sign on his desk that reads ‘Secret Agent’. Is Broome – who is herself Matoban, speaks the native Ku language and harbours a radical political past – telling the truth? And what about exiled Matoban dissident Kuman-Kuman (George Harris), who now lives in Brooklyn? What’s he up to? It’s time both for Broome to enjoy round-the-clock protection and for director Sydney Pollack to indulge in the internal machinery of the UN building (allowing in movie cameras for the first time) and some impressive helicopter shots of NYC.
Matobo? Ku? Kuman-Kuman? All fictional, of course – but we must assume that Matobo is a post-revolutionary, now corrupt sub-Saharan state along the lines of, say, Zimbabwe and, in turn, that President Zuwanie is a thinly veiled portrait of a Robert Mugabe-type figure. This is largely a competent, successful  thriller, but observing global politics from this perspective is an uncomfortable, frustrating experience. The world-view on display here is much more considered than, say, in a Bond movie, but the film still lends nothing to our understanding of postcolonial Africa or the UN (discounting the decor of its more private corners).
And as for the will-they/won’t-they chemistry between Broome and Keller…


Release details

Release date:
Friday April 15 2005
120 mins

Cast and crew

Sydney Pollack
Charles Randolph, Scott Frank, Steven Zaillian
Nicole Kidman
Sean Penn
Catherine Keener
Jesper Christensen
Yvan Attal
Earl Cameron
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