Koch On Film
By Ed Koch
The Interpreter (-)
This is a terrible film. The two principal actors, Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, are bad; director Sydney Pollack, who appears several times in the movie, is bad; and, worst of all, the script is the pits.
The story begins in Matobo (a fictional country) with two men discovering dozens of dead bodies, the result of a genocidal act. The identities of these two men, one white and the other black, are disclosed later on. People are being killed in a war against a terrorist government by two rebel armies that appeared to be terrorists as well.
Silvia (Nicole Kidman) is an interpreter at the United Nations. She was born in Matobo, and Ku is one of the languages that she translates into English. At the U.N., Silvia overhears a cryptic conversation in Ku and reports it to the Secret Service where she meets agent, Tobin (Sean Penn). From that point on we get involved in car chases, a bus bombing, an assassination plot, and lots of soap opera speeches by Silvia on world peace.
There is absolutely no chemistry between Kidman and Penn. Kidman, who was terrific in The Hours, is simply a beautiful woman in this film giving a humdrum performance, and Penn, who was superb in Mystic River, does not create a character that the audience can respond to. The script needs and gets explanations from the characters to be coherent, something that is not normally required in a good script.
All in all, I believe this movie is a complete waste of your time, and most of the critics came to the same conclusion. Movie goers seemed to get that message. When I saw the flick on a Sunday afternoon, the theater was only 25 percent full. I derived much more pleasure from a Passover dinner with my family the night before. The table was overflowing with good food and the Passover script (all of us participated in the reading) was much better than this movie script.