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The Interpreter

The truth needs no translation.  

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Interpreter

The Interpreter is a thoughtful well-written political thriller, which deals with the workings of the United Nations as the controversial African Leader, Zuwanie (Cameron) prepares to travel to the UN Headquarters in New York to make a speech. The film stands out from many other recent releases by not featuring computer-generated effects and instead focuses on simply telling a story. In this endeavour it is blessed with a fantastic script, a great performance from Nicole Kidman and the first film ever allowed to shoot inside the UN building in New York.

Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, a South African interpreter at the United Nations, with a particular knowledge of obscure African dialects. When she overhears a conversation implying the imminent assassination of Zuwanie, she feels compelled to act, but finds that the FBI seem more interested in her past than the overheard threat. Broome's life is put in danger by what she has overheard, and as the agent assigned to her case Tobin (Sean Penn) is caught between investigating and protecting her, both of them are dealing with their own problems and increasingly rely on one another.

The script is very well written, with some excellent banter between Kidman and Penn, and manages to keep the story moving through a plot that, at times, can become very dark indeed. Kidman and Penn work together nicely to flesh out both of their characters slowly and carefully, so that by the end, there is a real feeling that the audience know both and care about what happens to them, physically and emotionally.

The film is not all dialogue and plot development, but its flashes of action are carefully placed and are never overblown, with the tension before the action always just as important as the action itself. Indeed it is the tension that makes this film, as nothing is spelt out to the viewer, there is always some level of mystery, some unexplained plot element to be wondered over. This feeling of the unknown continues all the way to the end making it one of the best thrillers in recent times.

Patrick Telford

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)