Film Reviews

THE INTERPRETER

By • Apr 22nd, 2005 •

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Universal Pictures presents in association with MP Jota Prods. / a Working Title production in association with Misher Films and Mirage Enterprises
MPAA rating: PG-13 / Running time — 128 minutes

Preachy about forgiveness but still an intelligent thriller.

If you are coming to Las Vegas, I would recommend (1) “O” at Mandalay Bay, (2) “The Uncensored Hypnotist” Anthony Cools at Paris Las Vegas, and (3) “Forbidden Vegas” (soon to vacate) The Westin. Anthony Cools is the most fabulous, outrageous, sensational act on the Las Vegas Strip. April 15 was Anthony Cools premiere show. I was introduced to Cools at the VIP reception held at the Risqué Nightclub by Preferred Public Relations’ Shannon Bentham. I handed him my card. I should have shook his hand.

The standing room only crowd of young people rushed the stage to be hypnotized. Cools is very, very good at what he does. He is brilliant. (Last year I attended a similar “X-rated” hypnotism show. The hypnotist had to cancel the show because there were not enough “hypnotizable” volunteers on the stage.) I never had so much naughty fun! I screamed with laughter. I shouted. I stood up and yelled at Cools. This “raw and uncensored” evening changes every night. One highlight was Cools inducing the participants to believe they were naked. He told them they were porn stars and were auditioning for a part in a movie. They were to have sex with the most gorgeous person they ever saw; in reality, it was a metal chair. I have never seen anything like this. Ever. Cools ended his show by holding hands with every participant and telling them they were going to have the most intense – 10 times normal – orgasm. This is not the show for prudes, old people, or those who do not want to see audience members or friends having sex in front of a screaming audience. Or having an intense orgasm. (A warning: If you have a sexual orientation or a fetish you are keeping from your friends, stay in your seat.)*

For months I have been reading only one thing about THE INTERPRETER: It is the first movie ever allowed to be filmed inside the United Nations. I think potential audiences would have been far more impressed had they been told it was a solid, effective political thriller.

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) is a southern African-born U.N. translator who, as we all know from the trailer, conveniently overhears an assassination plot in an African dialectic only a few people understand. The savage dictator of Matobo is coming to the U.N. General Assembly to give a speech. Broome informs the U.N., and Secret Service agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) and his partner, Dot Woods (underused Catherine Keener), are sent to investigate. Keller quickly accesses Broome’s rebel African background as a troubling coincidence (that slipped by U.N.’s security).

It’s a tad preachy about forgiveness and the power of the U.N. I thought the U.N. was just a neat way to reward political favorites with diplomatic status, immunity, and free NYC housing.

As a Sidney Pollack film, he delivers an intelligent thriller with smart dialogue. This is not a hack job for screenwriters Charles Randolph, Scott Frank and Steven Zaillian (story attributed to Martin Stellman and Brian Ward). With Kidman and Penn upfront, each is given emotional scenes. They both work the tears. You can see the muscular skill they devote to their scenes. Though not as intense as the roles he had in 21 GRAMS, MYSTIC RIVER, and the little seen THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON, Penn’s “presence” in his scenes with Kidman is striking. While Kidman is always terrific in dramas (I hated THE STEPFORD WIVES and have no hope for BEWITCHED: Kidman is just too beautiful, too tall, and too anorexic to be the average woman marooned in comedic situations), her wig does a lot of acting for her. Why would Kidman agree to a hairstyle that is so distracting? Besides watching Kidman’s wig, I was fascinated at how her scenes with Penn cleverly obscured the fact that there is a major height deferential between them.

For a political thriller with a complicated theme, Pollack also takes us on a highly dramatic, tense scene aboard a Brooklyn bus. Never mind how Broome got there – it’s a movie. I do not agree with the ending but there is always that African folktale that puts Broome’s redemption into perspective. As a former New Yorker, I want to mention the cinematographer, Darius Khondji (Kidman should place him on retainer. She looks to be about 20 years old here), and designer Jon Hutman for giving the city a lovely, vibrant look.

* Anthony Cools “The Uncensored Hypnotist”. Show time: 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday. Ticket prices: $40 and $60 plus tax. Call Paris Las Vegas (888) 266-5687 or (702) 946-7000.


Cast:
Silvia Broome: Nicole Kidman
Tobin Keller: Sean Penn
Dot Woods: Catherine Keener
Nils Lud: Jesper Christensen
Philippe: Yvan Attal
Zuwanie: Earl Cameron
Kuman-Kuman: George Harris

Credits:
Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenwriters: Charles Randolph, Scott Frank, Steven Zaillian
Story: Martin Stellman, Brian Ward
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kevin Misher
Executive producers: Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, G. Mac Brown
Director of photography: Darius Khondji
Production designer: Jon Hutman
Music: James Newton Howard
Co-producers: Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward
Costumes: Sarah Edwards
Editor: William Steinkamp

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