It is not often that the character of an interpreter takes on the leading role in an exciting Hollywood movie. The thriller movie The Interpreter focuses on the work of translators and wraps them into a compelling story. The multiple Oscar and the Golden Globes winner Hollywood veteran Sydney Pollack directed this unusual movie.
Nicole Kidman took a role of a New York interpreter Sylvia Broome. One day she overheard two men who were talking about a planned murder plot. The victim was supposed to be the African dictator Dr. Zuwanie. They wanted to attack him in the plenary of the United Nations during a session. Silvia manages to escape the situation without being noticed and goes to the security department the next day. But she is met with suspicion. Instead of believing her, they ask for help from the FBI. Two agents belonging to the personal protection team get the job.
The FBI Is Suspicious
Tobin Keller, played by Sean Penn, checks the allegations and the past of Silvia. There are some inconsistencies. Keller soon has doubts about the version that Silvia has brought him. After all, the translator has more to do with the tiny state from Africa than she would like to. The FBI agent also finds some dark spots in her past. Soon he begins to believe that she could not be a witness to a crime but a part of a conspiracy against the dictator. After all, she had good reasons to do so. When asked about this, Silvia does not accept these allegations. But distrust is sown. The two characters are in growing danger and become entangled in a network full of intrigue, diplomacy, and personal concern.
More Drama Than Thriller
But instead of relying on countless chases and action, as usual, Sidney Pollack develops the movie calmly and concentrates on the interaction of its two main characters. The director has already proven this approach with movies such as The Three Days of the Condor. That is just as famous as his comedy Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman in the lead role. What sounds like a straight thriller is a mixture of different story arcs here. In the film, you can find moral reflections on guilt, vengeance, and grief. Pollack wrapped the whole thing in a thriller.
However, this movie is showing quite a utopic attitude as the makers demonstrated that they trust the United Nations rather than their politicians to solve international crises. The then general secretary allowed filming in the building for the first time, including in the public assembly hall. Director Sidney Pollak uses an interesting trick to implement it. The viewer experiences the first third of the movie from Silvia’s point of view. That changes, and suddenly you see the story from the perspective of Sean Penn’s FBI agent. With this move, you can critically look at Silvia’s character from a distance and recognize her weaknesses. The movie has a lot of speed and leads directly into the story.