The Interpreter

DVD Reviews | Oct 2nd, 2005

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Starring Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener
Written By: Charles Randolph, Scott Frank, Steven Zallian
Directed By: Sydney Pollack
Studio: Universal
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From Oscar Winner director, Sydney Pollack, comes this Politically charged drama that takes place in New York City’s United Nations for the most part. Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn star as a UN Interpreter and a Federal Agent, who are out to stop an assassination attempt on one of Africa’s countries, Matobo. Kidman, a native of this fictional country, overhears talk in her native tongue that an attempt on Matobo’s dictator is imminent at the UN. Sean Penn leads the investigation and is out to find the real truth to all that is occurring. While the story is slowly paced, some good elements appear in the film and make up for a rather sludgy paced movie.

The story begins in an African stadium as a meeting is taking place. As you enter the stadium, an inspection of several dead bodies by a group of a men, which then leads to themselves being gunned down and killed with only a photographer in the truck getting away, barely. After that the film jumps to present time, in New York City. It will be well over an hour before you find out what the whole meeting in Africa was about. What is impressive about this film, is that this is the first time a film has shot footage at the United Nations, with a little help from Director Pollack and a sit down with the UN’s Kofi Annan. Used as a back drop for most of the film’s sets, the UN is where you will find Nicole Kidman’s character, Sylvia, constantly working and being “The Interpreter,” for her native language and country of Matobo. There, after a long day of work, Sylvia picks up on dialect of two men discussing that they want to murder the Dictator of Matobo in a few days, when he arrives to speak in the UN. Called into investigate and determine the cause of the attempt on the dictator’s life, Sean Penn’s character treats Sylvia as a witness, but at times, feels like she maybe a suspect. As Keller (Penn) digs in deeper, he finds Sylvia has a much more darker past. As you watch the film you really have no idea how Sylvia is so involved, besides only being the interpreter at the United Nations. You later learn of her missing brother in the region and his possibility he maybe involved in the Dictator’s plans or the rebels vying for his power. Not to mention you have a mysterious man, possibly from Matobo, who is going around killing people related to the case, and is involved in a terrorist bombing in New York, involving Matobo rebel leaders, Federal agents, and Kidman at one point. Other than that and a few other sequences, the film is mostly story with not so much thrilling & action packed explosions.

Bonus features on the set include the usual extras such as Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, and a few featurettes. What you get in the making of vignettes is, “Sydney Pollack at Work: From Concept to Cutting Room,” which goes into how the director dealt with the challenges of the film and what was needed to make the movie work. Next, Pollack discusses his take on the film format of Pan and Scan (Ick) and Widescreen. Pollack discusses what is gained in his choice of going with a widescreen format for his film. Interesting and I believe the first time a featurette is dedicated to that question. After that, you must check out “The Ultimate Movie Set: The United Nations,” as the cast and crew take you inside one of the most highly protective buildings in the country. Also, don’t forget to watch how a real life Interpreter deals with confrontation and how they convey communications among the nations of the world.

Overall, I felt The Interpreter drag on, and didn’t draw me in like I wanted it to. Featuring two very strong starring cast members, the movie surrounds itself with a great supporting cast and Director Sydney Pollack always provides a compelling story without all the flare of a big action drama. I think the film was hard to understand at times. The “unknown” faces that play the bad guys, had me guessing which people were bad and which one’s were good. Sean Penn’s performance stood out above Kidman’s and felt he was the reason to watch the film.

-Deleted Scenes
-Alternative Ending
-The Ultimate Movie Set: The United Nations
A movie industry first – the cast and crew of The Interpreter lead you
through the never-before-filmed rooms of the UN headquarters.
-A Day In the Life of Real Interpreters
From conversation to confrontation, meet the people who enable communication
among nations.
-Sydney Pollack at Work: From Concept to Cutting Room
Check the gate with director Sydney Pollack as he explains the challenges of
filming The Negotiator
-Interpreting Pan and Scan vs. Widescreen
Get an exclusive director’s perspective on how choosing y our film format
can bring a new cinematic dimension to the story.

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)

Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: A Bus Ride, Showdown at the UN
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 129 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: