Masterful directing, great acting and a tense plot that doesn't quite reach its potential are what makes "The Interpreter" what it is, an exciting, smart thriller that never quite attains the edge to take it to the next level.
And what was missing exactly? A perfect ending. The first three quarters of the film are terrific, not at all action-packed but exciting nonetheless. With the direction of Sydney Pollack and the acting of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, "The Interpreter" moves along at breakneck speed due to the tight construction of the plot and the equally compelling secrets of its main players. Sadly, some people will find it slow and boring, but "The Interpreter" keeps you guessing up until the end. The truth behind it all actually is alluded to early in the film, but you never know for sure. Thanks to the way Pollack slowly reveals more and more about his characters, you never know for sure whether Kidman is going to end up good or bad.
That being said, "The Interpreter" falls short of wowing its audience. Though the twist in the movie is pretty neat, if not somewhat expected, the movie goes on for another fifteen minutes with a second ending and other stuff that just didn't seem to fit with the political thriller aspects of the story. It would have been nice to have one more big twist - and that one last big twist would have made "The Interpreter" memorable.
Sadly, while I enjoyed it and would recommend it, I can't see it having much sustainability in the years to come. The first movie to be filmed in the actual United Nations headquarters, "The Interpreter" had a lot of potential at its hand. It uses much of it and the result is a highly exciting and entertaining thriller, but a thriller that just doesn't leave its mark. Compared to another New York political thriller, "The Siege," it just doesn't have the goods.
Even though it may be forgotten in years to come, "The Interpreter" will undoubtedly be one of the better films of the year. Its lead actors turn in great performances and the plot is thrilling for those who like the politics and warfare of diplomacy.
Now out on DVD, "The Interpreter" comes with a host of special features including deleted scenes, an alternate ending, an audio commentary, a couple featurettes and, best of all, a feature on the difference between Pan & Scan and Widescreen. Note my sarcasm. You know a DVD is lacking features when you throw in a generic feature like that, even if it is important (a lot of people still don't realize how much better Widescreen format is). Anyway, the alternate ending, which was touted as being wildly different, is really just a lame three-minute alteration that is definitely not as good as the original ending. If you're expecting Nicole Kidman to blow the guy's brains out, you'll be massively disappointed.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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