Being alone in her United Nations sound booth after hours, interpreter Sylvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) overhears an assassination plot that puts despotic African leader and president of the Republic of Matobo Edmund Zuwanie’s life in jeopardy. After reporting that the assassination will take place during Zuwanie’s speech at UN headquarters in New York City, the secret service around Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) begins its investigation. Discovering that Sylvia herself is from Matobo, her parents and sister killed by one of Zuwanie’s land mines and she being one of only eight people in the US able to understand Matobo’s tribal dialect inevitably puts her on the suspect list. As the plot develops, dramatic confrontations ensue, a platonic love grows and a conspiracy theory unfolds while the audience is riveted to their seats and begins to question Sylvia’s integrity and real motivation.
After The Firm and Three Days of the Condor, Sydney Pollack, the master of the political thriller, delivers yet another at-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. Thanks to a close friendship with Kofi Annan, Pollack was the first director allowed to shoot inside UN headquarters on New York City’s East River (in the United Nations General Assembly as well as in the Security Council buildings). With fascinating in and outside shots of the UN building, captivating aerial shots of New York and interesting characters played by two of today’s most critically acclaimed actors (Kidman and Penn), the movie convinces both plot-wise and technically. With a slightly disappointing ending the movie unfortunately doesn’t conclude with the brilliancy of its first half. With its old-school feeling The Interpreter is nevertheless a welcome change in the era of modern film-making. Go see it before you indulge yourself in not so demanding flicks when the summer movie season officially begins.