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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 24 June 2006
Nicole Kidman plays the part of a young South African translator to the United Nations, Silvia Broome. While working late she overhears a plot to assassinate the genocidal president of her home country, Motambo. When she reports her story, Silvia is placed under the protection of federal agent Tobin Keller (played by Sean Penn). As Keller digs deeper into Silvias past and her secretive world of global connections, he becomes suspicious that she herself might be involved in the conspiracy. With every step of the way, he finds more reasons to mistrust her. As the danger of a major assassination on U.S. soil grows Silvia and Tobin must join forces in a race to stop a terrifying international crisis from occurring on US soil.

While I found Nicole Kidman's performance very good in this film I did find her South African accent all over the place at times. There were parts where I couldn't understand what she was saying at all. I've worked with South Africans in the past and they're not that hard to understand!! For me though the most praise must go to Sean Penn who gives an astounding performance as agent Tobin Keller. This performance for me was on par with his performance in Mystic was just that good.

The plot was so believable that it upset one African leader in particular who felt the film was based on his character (hey, if the cap fits!). All in all I found it an entertaining political thriller and feel it deserves 4 stars.
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on 4 September 2005
"The Interpreter" is almost worth watching for the fantastic and intriguing shots of life within the United Nations building alone. Never before have a film crew been allowed inside, and to get a fly on the wall view of this place of international diplomacy is exciting.
Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, an American born, but African bred interpreter working at the UN in New York. Returning to the building late one night to pick up some property she left earlier, she overhears a whispered conversation in the rare African language spoken in the country she was brought up in, Matobo. The conversation discusses a possible assassination plot of the Matoban President, Dr Zuwanie, who is planning to visit the UN to defend charges of genocide that have been alleged against him. Broome reports the incident and is investigated by Secret Service Agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) whose job is to protect the Matoban President when he makes his visit. Keller not only has to ensure the President's safety but he must also ensure nothing happens to Broome, who seems to be the target of mysterious pursuers.
Broome herself though, perhaps isn't the whiter than white innocent she first appears when Keller discovers that she was involved in the rebel uprising in Matobo.
The film is full of the usual sort of plot, sub-plot and counter-plot so you never really know who is on the side of who, who is chasing who and who are the goodies and who are the baddies! For all this though, the film is never confusing and the twist at the end is well worth waiting for, even though it's a trick that has been used before.
Use of tension throughout is excellently done and there are more than one occasion that will find you on the edge of your seat. The fact that some of the story developments have a poignancy all of their own in today's world, makes the film even more riveting.

Kidman, as ever, gives a great performance and manages to play the role not as a victim but as a strong willed woman who believes in what she is doing. Penn, with that fantastic expressional face, is similarly good as the world weary and baggage carrying agent. They play off each other really well and it's a credit to the film that it never slips into a romance story even though you could believe the two main leads would have an attraction for each other.
All in all, an intelligent and exciting thrilling drama that has the added bonus of being bang-up to date with current affairs giving it an important relevance.
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on 22 June 2008
This is a great action-packed thriller which keeps your brain-cells ticking and keeps you on the edge-of your seat; it is more intellectual compared with others in some ways. I recommend it. Great taste and flavour of the UN as well---giving an overall picture of what such a great institution is capable of achieving and why it exists today--words, compassion, diplomacy and justice will forever dominate over sheer brute force and violence.

I may be spoiling the film if you haven't seen it to some extent but it has some of the most beautiful and lyrically poetic lines ever----close to the end of the film:
'The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear.
But the human voice is different from other sounds.
It can be heard over noises that bury everything else.
Even when it's not shouting.
Even if it's just a whisper.
Even the lowest whisper can be heard over armies....
When it's telling the truth...'

The above is an extract from a fictional book written by one of the film's main characters: Dr.Edmond Zuwani.
The above lines alone for me is what makes this film worthy of 5 stars.(whoever they may have been written by)
I encourage you to watch the film to understand its context and greater meaning....Not many thrillers can truly move you and prompt you to understand humaneness and humanity.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 January 2016
In this 2005 political thriller, Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) is an interpreter working at the United Nations in New York City. After being forced to leave the building due to a security scare, she returns at night to reclaim some personal belongings and overhears an assassination plot against an African leader. When she reports the incident to U.N. Security she soon finds herself in serious danger, and under suspicion, especially when her own secrets start to come to light.
Despite some obvious plot and scripting flaws showing a weak portrayal of security and procedures, certain scenes are also just bizarre [eg inside the ‘dance’ club]. It’s also annoying that Sylvia’ mysterious phone calls [in French] are not translated as well as some of the African dialogue. Sean Penn is a great choice as the cynical security investigator but Kidman underwhelms early on as many of her lines are muttered. However the story does have some good lines trying to give a behind the scenes morality to it all.
The single disc loads to a 12 language selection, then bizarrely goes to main screen offering play, scene selection, bonus [alternate ending, deleted scenes, a sort of making of, discussion on film formats and trailers] and subtitles [12 languages as opening screen].
Don’t confuse this with an action movie, it’s a nice change from ‘shoot em ups’ but does have a pedestrian pace which will not please action fans. Considering the $80,000,000 budget, this should be much better than it is and with the flaws can’t make a top score, although this is otherwise a an entertaining view with some good attempts at misdirection and the last half stops it falling to a ***.
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on 21 August 2005
First things first. The basic premise of the story follows South African UN Interpreter Silvia Broome (Kidman) who overhears an assassination plot. As she heard it in the main hall of the UN, surrounded by microphones, nobody believes her. Especially Secret Serviceman Tobin Keller (Penn). But as the date of the plot nears, concerns grow about the safety of the target, and the honesty of the Interpreter. The leads, Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, are - as usual - on fine form and the direction from Sydney Pollack is constructive and well engineered. However, the ridiculous plot and the lack of character development drags the film (especially it's dull ending). The supporting cast is, as you would expect from a Pollack film, is excellent, but yet again the failings of the script merely place these characters filling gaps when Kidman and Penn arn't on-screen together.
As I said, the ending is extremely dull and very predicatble, and after an impressive start, the film brings itself to a standstill. Overall, it promises a lot, but delivers little.
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The premise in this tightly wrought thriller directed by the very accomplished Sydney Pollack is that Zuwanie (Earl Cameron) the old dictator (once "freedom fighter") of an African nation called "Matobo" is coming to New York to make a speech in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman), an interpreter at the UN, overhears part of a conversation after-hours that leads her to believe that there will be an assassination attempt on the leader's life. She tells security. Federal agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) is called in to investigate and help prevent an assassination.

Keller quickly discovers that Silvia is from Matobo where her parents were murdered by some of Zuwanie's henchmen and where she was subsequently involved in some political/paramilitary activities. Two questions that Keller must answer are, does she have some sort of motive to lie and how is she involved?

The problem with the film (aside from some of the usual improbabilities and contortions found in Hollywood thrillers--and to be honest there weren't that many in this one) is the ending. Without giving anything away, the probability of Zumanie being left alone after what had happened is something like zero. But the real problem is what happens between Tobin and Silvia at the end. They are both very available and after they have had the opportunity to bond under very difficult circumstances, can you guess how their relationship is resolved? I understand there was an alternative ending. Maybe Pollack should have employed it.

Pollack's films going back several decades are characterized by diversity of subject matter, excellent scripts, and star power. Four of his best are They Shoot Horses Don't They? (1969) (depression ear dance marathon drama starring Jane Fonda); Tootsie (1982) (romantic comedy starring Dustin Hoffman); Out of Africa (1985) (adapted from the famous book by Karen Blixen under her pen name "Isak Dinesen," starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford); and Sabrina (1995) (splendid remake of the Audrey Hepburn film this time starring Julie Ormond and Harrison Ford). But he tends to like action/adventure as much as comedy or drama. He is one of filmdom's most versatile directors, and this film, while not his best, is very representative of his work.

But what carries the film is the charisma of the stars, Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, especially Kidman who seems the very impersonation of what an interpreter at the UN might be. She manages to be delicate but tough, thoroughly professional and beautiful. I have seen her in seven or eight films and can say that she is as talented as any actress currently working. In her ability to concentrate and to completely immerse herself in a role she is comparable to Meryl Streep. Some early films of hers that display her youthful vitality and the natural sophistication and nuanced manner of her style are Dead Calm (1989), Flirting (1991), and To Die For (1995).

By the way, "Matobo" is not an actual nation but is the name of a national park in Zimbabwe and as far as I can tell "Ku" is not an actual language. (I have no idea what they were speaking.)

Bottom line: Can a film directed by Sydney Pollack starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn be anything but worth seeing?
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on 19 July 2015
Excellent thriller ! This is a fast-paced action thriller, with some violence but is also has a great storyline and brilliant acting by all the cast; I don't usually go for something that N Kidman is in but she is excellent in this role playing opposite Sean Penn who is at his best. The music is haunting, too. Fantastic direction and great camera work. More thrillers should follow this ones lead .....
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2007
I'd read other reviews of this film claiming it was an intelligent and stylish thriller and I remember regretting missing it at the cinema as it seemed to promise a happy change from the usual gun & gore fests that dominate Hollywood's output. However, I have to say this film left me cold and my prevailing thought at the end was "Is that it?"

The story starts well with a prologue involving a sinister double-cross in Madeupnameland in Africa followed by Kidman's character inadvertantly stumbling across a plot to kill a controversial African leader. After that it just disintegrates. If you watch this film you can look forward to a whole series of tiresome Hollywood clichés including tough but fragile heroine, cynical but sensitive cop, ruthless but incompitent hitman, corrupt and murderous African leader and twists and turns more predictable than a spiral staircase. The most jarring thing is the name of the invented African country and I'm in doubt the writers thought "We need something that sounds African... hmm... Umbongo... Bongobongoland... Umpalumpaloolaa...".

On the plus side there are creditable performances from Penn and Kidman with the latter never looking better, but the remainder of the cast are little more than moving wallpaper. The New York backdrop is familiar and used to completely unspectacular effect and, without wishing to spoil part of the plot, I was left wondering if anybody in the Big Apple ever closes their curtains.

I hoped for stylish and intelligent. I got hackneyed and predictable. I won't be adding it to my shopping basket.
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on 23 March 2015
This DVD arrived in good condition this time the better known star is female Nicole Kidman, I have a few of her films and think she is one of the better of today's stars, she always chooses very different parts and you always get value for money in her films.
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on 2 April 2006
The interpreter might not be a film for everyone. It is quite slow going and doesn't have much in the way of action. However it is a very good story, well directed and starring a great cast of actors. Penn and Nicole Kidman are great, Nicole especially convincing as an English interpreter at the U.N. The plot revolves around her overhearing an assassination plot against a visiting African dictator. She gets tangled up in the plot and has a few secrets of her own. Overall a great film if you like an intelligent story line and good acting. If you want real exciting action pieces you won't find it here.
The DVD has a slight alternative ending, some deleted scenes...nothing major. It also has a feature on the U.N. building, being the first film allowed access to film there, 8 mins long. There is also another feature on what it is like to be an interpreter at the U.N., also 8mins long. 7/10
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