The Interpreter (2005)

(In theaters, April 2005) Well, that’s unfortunate: While The Interpreter could have been a good straight-up thriller in the traditional vein, writer/director Sydney Pollack goofs up in his attempt to transform it into an Academy Awards showcase for stars Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. For the longest time, the film doesn’t give much to chew on: Besides an unprecedented look at the United Nations and some fascinating details at the universe of professional translation, The Interpreter loses itself in cheap setup, easy drama and interminable development. Things pick up once a bunch of characters all converge on a single city bus, in one top-notch suspense sequence that shows what’s possible when a good old pro like Pollack starts paying attention. The suspense then falls down once more until the mildly diverting ending, which throws one or two surprises in the mix and stirs weakly. The self-conscious performances of the two leads are wasted in a film that should have focused on suspense rather than drama. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good either. Sadly, it certainly won’t do much to raise excitement in what the United Nations represent.

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