ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  sydney pollack

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  suspense

LENGTH  -  128 minutes

RELEASED  -  22 april 2005

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the interpreter

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $80,000,000
the interpreter - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the interpreter at

buy the dvd from the interpreter at

political intrigue and deception unfold inside the united nations, where a us secret service agent is assigned to investigate an interpreter who overhears an assassination plot.

despite the high security at the u.n. and terror alerts, crew members were allowed to bring in knives for their work.


picture from the interpreter

picture from the interpreter

picture from the interpreter

picture from the interpreter


two out of four possible stars

As it relates to the current state of world affairs, The Interpreter is a film that tries to combine a statement on the widespread political strife in Africa with the disparate personal lives of individuals who happen to be involved in an international conspiracy. Centering on the investigation of a suspected plot to assassinate an African dictator, the film details the uneasy relationship between a United Nations interpreter, "Sylvia Broome" (Nicole Kidman) and a recently widowed secret service agent, "Tobin Keller" (Sean Penn). And although the film finds solace in the arms of the expected and accepted, this film's draw seems not to be its story or political statement, but in its construction as a tightly wound thriller.

Relying on the cinematic tools of a bounding score, clean cinematography, and an elegantly laid-out plot, this film suffers most not in its story, but it in its sometimes languid editing. The plotting seems so careful at times and because the film seem so controlled in its presentation, it's difficult to get carried away with the story. Aiding and abetting this problem are a few too many scenes detailing the despair of Sean Penn's character where it seems the purpose of more than a few of the shots was to showcase Penn's various facial expressions rather than any valuable story or character development. Penn stares absently into space more times than are warranted by the story, despite a need to show his character's depression.

Like a person who likes to hear the sound of his own voice, it appears as though the filmmakers and the actor himself deemed it necessary to provide the audience with more than their needed share of serious and ponderous close-ups of Sean Penn's face. But when the camera isn't trained on his visage, this thriller seems to thump along nicely, with Nicole Kidman giving a powerful showing as "Sylvia Broome," a multi-lingual interpreter who overhears two people discussing a potential assassination plot. Despite making the audience wait just a little bit too long for each turn of the plot, Nicole is a strong and interesting focal-point. And although it is a more superficial consideration, the wardrobe and make-up for Kidman and Penn are smartly accomplished and match well the slick city view of the film's major locations.

As each of the lead actors are considered strong performers (each owning a few high-profile awards for their respective careers), the addition of Sydney Pollack in the director's chair (and in a supporting acting role) seems to have served the cast well as the performances are generally strong from the entire cast. Catherine Keener, as "Dot Woods," latches on with enthusiasm to her supporting role as a secret service agent working with Penn's character and seems up to the task of competing with Penn's performance ego. A wide and varied cast of multi-national actors gives the audience a non-ethnocentric viewpoint for the politically charged plot, though in considering the emphasis on the personal emotions of the lead characters, the politics of the film might be considered a secondary consideration.

While The Interpreter is presented in its marketing media (mainly theatrical trailers and television spots) as a political thriller, and the plot provides much detail about the veritable circus arena that is the United Nations, the true theme of the film is not blatantly political. Instead, the filmmakers seem to have chosen the general idea of forgiveness as a man theme for the film, focusing much of the story on how death, murder, and revenge affect the people involved, rather than their nations and ambassadors. But this presentation is not always an easy one and occasionally the balance between the personal and the political could have been more smartly laid-out.

Regarding the technical aspects of the film, the estimated eighty million dollar budget has served the look and sound of the film well as the musical score, cinematography, and set design are each accomplished with the smooth grace audiences need from an urban thriller. It just so happens that the beautiful presentation of the film should have found a stricter editor who would have been willing to make a few additional cuts to increase the pace of the film and get the audience to its conclusion just a few minutes sooner. The film doesn't really suffer from an excess of length, but the route to the finish line is not always as direct as it could have been.

The Interpreter is a well-made film on most fronts, though it's doubtful a viewing would provide anything more intense than an entertaining few hours at the Cineplex. If one were to be particularly generous, a theatrical viewing could be suggested for fans of the actors and/or director, but for general audiences, it's more of a toss-up than a sure thing. "Well made" does not always turn into "must see" on the movie screen, so if you're at all doubtful about whether you'd enjoy this type of film, it might be a safer bet to catch it as a matinee. The large-scale cinematography and the sleek production values mark it as a good theatrical experience, but do not expect to be more than mildly impressed by this competent thriller.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs universal pictures 2005
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact