Kidman, Penn are excellent in 'Interpreter'

Published 2:58 am Monday, May 9, 2005

By By Celina Miller
The Interpreter (PG-13) stars Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. This is an intriguing thriller about the possible assassination attempt of an international leader. Silvia Broome (Kidman), a United Nations interpreter, overhears the details of the murder plot. Turning to the secret service for help, Tobin Keener (Penn) is tapped to head the investigation into whether the threat is a real one or if the interpreter has her own skewed political motives.
The leader in question is Edmund Zuwanie of the fictional African country Motobo. Once respected by his people, the leader is now trying to escape charges of political genocide from international court. He will soon travel to the United Nations in New York to make a speech defending his political practices. It is then and there that the assassination would take place. The head of the Secret Service (played by the film's director Sydney Pollack) tells his men that the last thing the United States needs is an assassination attempt on U.S. soil. There is a realistic sense of disregard to the politics of the situation as the Secret Service must protect this would-be international criminal under all circumstances. Having recently watched Hotel Rwanda (a true story about the 1994 murder of more than 1 million people in Africa), it is difficult to imagine political genocide being tolerated at any level or on any stage.
As the investigation into the plot is underway, the Service learns of Broome's past in Motobo which includes duel citizenship and rebel rallies. It also includes deep hurt over familial loss due to Zuwanie's practices. Keener is at first baffled by Broome's motives but later gains an understanding with the interpreter as he himself has recently suffered deep loss of his own. There is no romantic connection between the stars although there might have been in a less stressful time. At one point, asking a denying Broome if she is in fact the one pictured carrying a riffle down the street in Africa, Keener states, "That is you. I know it's you because I look at you through my binoculars and stare at you from across the street. I do all of the things I shouldn't be doing."
Set in and around the United Nations building in New York, the movie has a very realistic feel. A statue of a barrel-knotted gun sits outside the UN building. This is somewhat ironic considering Zuwanie wishes to hide his genocidal practices behind this peace keeping organization.
Both Kidman and Penn's characters are played beautifully. The depth of each character is revealed while we are left wondering what these pain-filled people are thinking. Both actors' careers are on a roll with Penn winning an Oscar for 2003's Mystic River and Kidman winning in 2002 for The Hours. Pollack is also a past Oscar winner, achieving the honor for best direction in 1985 for "Out of Africa."
While the film is riveting it is also confusing with many twists and motive changes. There are several suspects who would be, at times, difficult for the casual movie watcher to keep track of. Perhaps, that's the point. In the end though, everything becomes clear and the movie is not only worthwhile but thought provoking as well.
Celina Miller's movie reviews appear in the Sunday edition of The Brewton Standard.