By Celeste Meiffren
photo courtesy of UNIVERSAL PICTURES
"The Interpreter" - Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn as two Americans caught up in an assassination plot in Africa.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Film Rating: 6 out of 10
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hate Nicole Kidman.
I have found with many years of discussing film with various people that no one else really understands - in a fundamental way - how Nicole Kidman is one of the most overrated actresses of her generation. But the fact remains that it's true.
That rant aside, "The Interpreter" is a decent film. Nicole Kidman doesn't completely ruin it with her awful accent and smug, rich, overrated actress underpinnings.
Kidman plays African native Silvia Broome, an interpreter for the United Nations who understands a dialect from Africa that few outside of the indigenous people of that region understand.
Things are going well for Ms. Broome until she leaves some of her belongings in the interpreter's room at the U.N. during a security evacuation. When she goes back to get her things, she overhears people plotting - in African dialect - to assassinate the controversial leader of that country. Suspicious coincidence? Indeed.
She reports the threat to the Secret Service and they immediately become suspicious of her. The guy in charge of the investigation is the emotionally sensitive Tobin Keller, played by Spicolli (Sean Penn). Keller is deeply depressed about something in his personal life, it would seem, but you never really care enough about it to pay attention.
Well, as one can probably guess, Keller and Broome go back and forth. They hate each other, they care for each other; they want to get in each other's pants; they share personal secrets and dark pasts. Of course, the whole romance thing feels very cliché.
If you can get past the contrived and utterly banal romantic plot line, there is actually an interesting film. Keller has to protect Broome because the potential assassins have discovered who she is. And throughout the movie, the audience has no idea who to trust or what Broome's ultimate motivation is. The twists are slightly predictable at times, but make for an interesting analysis of international politics and power struggles inside of countries.
There are three things that really bothered me about the film. Call them nitpicky, but they are things that need to be addressed.
First, not all African countries and black African people are corrupt. This movie seems to disagree with this fact. Tragic.
Second, not every single Sean Penn role needs to be about heartbreak and human tragedy. I would bet $10 that Keller was originally supposed to be a straightforward guy, but Sean Penn wouldn't sign the deal unless he could give his character "depth". And by depth he means two crying scenes. I mean, really Sean. You got your Oscar. Bring it down a couple notches.
Finally, Nicole Kidman. But I think we have covered that plenty.
This movie is worth seeing for its political message, and its interesting (aside from romantic) plot development. It's nothing to write home about, but it's better than a lot of the alternatives. I never got bored, but I was never at the edge of my seat. This spring, average is the new "good."