Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Interpreter is quite a fine, moving, interesting, complex film. It tells a good story, has well-acted characters that you care about and relates to the real world.
Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, great actors, both do excellent work creating damaged people finding a tentative relationship.
Nevertheless, it is not hard to see why it was not a big, financial success. (But the reasons say less about the film than the audience.) The film does not have non-stop action, a simple love story, elaborate special effects, or a simply told stock plot: Bad guy does bad thing to good guy; good guy gets revenge. Moreover, it was marketed as a "political thriller," (because it is about a political situation which puts many people in great danger), but it is not thrilling from end to end, nor overtly political in the sense of advocating some particular political agenda.
The story telling is confusing, mirroring the confusion of the characters investigating a possible plot on a horrific dictator. There is some preachy dialog in some not quite believable scenes -- but it turns out that it was the character who did not really believe what she was saying.
This is a messy story, about people with problems, in a confusing situation, where people are in danger, where the police are trying, but make terrible mistakes. It's not an easy genre movie, but that is its strength, not a criticism.
This is a film well worth watching on DVD (preferably on a big, high quality TV), possibly even a second time, with the commentary on.