Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Jesper Christensen and Earl Cameron

Sydney Pollock

Running Time:
129 mins

"The person with the darkest history is you"

Returning to her sound booth at the United Nations building, interpreter Silvia Broome (Kidman) overhears a plot to assassinate the leader of her home country, picked up by one of the microphones on the floor of the general assembly. Fearing for her life, she informs the authorities and Secret Service Agent Tobin Keller (Penn) is assigned to investigate but when he looks into the plot he discovers that person with the darkest past and the deepest secrets is the interpreter herself.

Political intrigue, assassination plots and characters that you don't know whether you can trust are all the stalwarts of a great thriller but does 'The Interpreter' have the twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat?

Director Sydney Pollock returns to the thriller genre and has brought two of Hollywood's hottest Oscar winning talents with him. With unprecedented access to the actual United Nation building in New York and using the great city as an exciting backdrop this is a movie that certainly looks and plays the part but does the story have what is takes to keep you enthralled? Yes and no.

The movie is a simmering potboiler that does take slightly too long to come to the boil. While this can be an advantage to the plot, as we have time to build character, tension and intrigue but there is something slightly too slow about the pace of the film. It just takes too long to get going, making the movie over long and could have done with ten or fifteen minutes cut out of it. The film does pick up midway through the second act however and this is when the plot and the characters really get a chance to shine.

Bringing the conspiracy to life are two Hollywood big hitters. Sean Penn is arguably one of the finest actors of his generation. He could be on screen reading his shopping list and you would be captivated. As Secret Service agent Tobin Keller he plays a character trying to recover from a momentous loss in his life. Throwing himself into work, Keller's instincts take over and his investigation skills come to bear as he throws open a web of intrigue and political revelations that have profound ramifications. Penn portrays the character with his usual skill and presence, making him all the more watchable. Nicole Kidman has a go at another accent as African native interpreter Silvia Broome. She gets to play the screaming victim with a chequered past and to be fair she does make the role all the more watchable via a good performance. While some may say that she is one of Hollywood's most talented actresses as she reinvigorated her career has splitting up with her superstar husband but she has a tendency for overplaying roles. Happily this isn't one of those times and this character is watchable and believable.

'The Interpreter' is a real potboiler of a thriller that just takes a bit too much time simmering before boiling over. The performances of the two leads will keep you enthralled however, even though either of the roles never really pushes their Oscar winning talents to the maximum. With enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end, this is a thriller that does deliver but just not quickly enough.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the movie is presented very well.


Alternative Ending (2.55 mins)
Watch an alternative finale that sees Silvia Broome interpreting as the dictator of her addresses the General Assembly.

Deleted Scenes (2.19 mins)
Entitled 'Gamba and Lud in the car', 'Dot and Silvia in the car' and 'Lud, Gamba and Marcus watch the news report', these three deleted scenes are not accompanied by either an introduction or commentary so we don't know why they were cut.

Sydney Pollock at Work: From Concept to Cutting Room (10.03 mins)
The director talks about his two-year journey in bringing this movie to the silver screen. He reveals how he got into filmmaking and acting and moves on to talk about how the movie came about and his total involvement in most aspect of the films production. The fact that the film was started with a finished script is also revealed, as the director talks about editing his movies and other aspects of the production.

Interpreting Pan & Scan vs. Widescreen (5.08 mins)
Director Sydney Pollock champions watching movies in their proper widescreen format and not that of 4x3 pan and scan. Outlining the differences between the two types of presentation, the director shows how the director's vision for each frame of the film is lost when some else edits their movie to fit a 4x3 screen. Trailers Previews of 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'The Bourne Identity: Special Edition'

Audio Commentary with director Sydney Pollock
Even though the acclaimed director has a very monotone voice, he still offers a fascinating insight into the making of 'The Interpreter'. He talks extensively about the locations used in the movie, highlighting both Africa and New York but it is the scenes shot with the UN building that he offers the most insights to. The man at the helm also talks about casting and the characters involved, revealing that Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman signed on with seeing a complete script. This is a decent commentary from the director but he does leave a few gaps every now and again, letting the scenes speak for themselves.

The Ultimate Movie Set: The United Nations (8.03 mins)
Director Sydney Pollock, location manager Rob Striem, producers Tim Bevan and Kevin Misher, director of photography Darius Khondji and star Nicole Kidman take you behind the scenes of location shoot at the United Nations Building in New York. Here we see the Security Council room and the General Assembly, and we find out about the joy and difficulties in shooting in the famous building.

A day in the life of real Interpreters (8.17 mins)
Director Sydney Pollock and Nicole Kidman are joined by Diana Liao (Chief Interpreter at the United Nations) and Bridget Andreassier-Pearl (Chief - French Section, Interpreter Service) to talk about the job that the Interpreters have to do for the UN. They explain the difference between translating and interpreting and discuss the country and the language that was created for the movie.


Universal has done a good job with the DVD transfer of 'The Interpreter'. With some interesting featurettes and a decent commentary track from the director, the only real downsides are the lack of a commentary or introduction on the deleted scenes and the lack of many cast interviews, especially one with Sean Penn. These omissions should not put of fans buying this good political thriller.


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