Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring:||Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Max Minghella, Jesper Christensen|
|Producer:||Kevin Misher, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan|
The truth needs no translation.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13) could be seen as the strongest theme in Sydney Pollack’s political suspense drama “The Interpreter.” It seems that this theme, and others like it, are becoming more and more prevalent in Hollywood, which may be a reaction to our current political climate. Whatever the endeavor, the result here is a presentation with a positive message of peace and a successful piece of entertainment.
Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) works inside the United Nations as an interpreter for her home country of South Africa. After overhearing what she thinks is an assassination attempt on a despised political leader, Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), she soon comes under investigation by the Secret Service, led by Tobin Keller (Sean Penn). Primarily instructed to protect the political leader Zuwanie during his visit, Keller ends up being more involved with Silvia, first formally as her protector, but eventually informally as her friend.
All things considered, this is a very decent film. There are a few brief objectionable moments, but they are very minor and do not take away from the overall enjoyment of the film. The worst is a brief scene in a strip club and has brief minor nudity. There is also some violence, involving guns and people being shot, as well as a suicide. There was a surprising lack of foul language, save one scene where Tobin curses, using God’s name in vain.
One of the aspects of this film that can be appreciated is the relationship between Silvia and Tobin. Their relationship begins strictly professionally, but, as these dramas stereotypically go, they become more involved personally. However, the taste and class with which they choose to handle their friendship—and even hints of romance—provides much more value to who they are as people. While the potential for them to be lovers is there, it is all kept at a very mature level while not even having them so much as kiss. There is a real tenderness, respect and mutual understanding reflected in each of the characters for each other. Thank you story writers Martin Stellman, Brian Ward, and screenplay writers Charles Randolph, Scott Frank and Steven Zaillian.
Speaking of the writing, there was more to appreciate in terms of craftsmanship. The drama is interesting, relevant and suspenseful. There are times when it does seem a little overly dramatic, but it is still handled very well. The dialogue is well written, and, of course, well performed. And while this is clearly a plot-driven kind of movie, there were still some moments where the language and the situations were rich with poetry.
Ultimately, this movie contains an inspiring story of mercy and forgiveness. There is a wonderful parable presented within this story that tells of a ritual involving punishing criminals and the family of the victims having to decide whether or not the guilty party should die or be saved. While this parable (and this movie) doesn’t provide all of the answers, it is one that greatly reflects a marvelous Biblical principal, reflecting the nature of God’s forgiveness for each of us.
There are a few details that one may object to, but overall this is a film worth watching. While it’s not the best movie ever, it is the best thing out right now, and provides entertainment as well as something uplifting.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.