Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Interpreter

2005, US, directed by Sydney Pollack

Rating: **.5

The Interpreter is something of a throwback, a complex conspiracy film more focused on human drama than cheap thrills, set in and around the United Nations. However, the novel setting can't quite overcome the film's derivative feel, which harks back to films like The Parallax View and Sydney Pollack's own Three Days of the Condor, from the heyday of 1970's paranoia about behind-the-scenes machinations. At times, it's also hard to entirely take seriously a film centered on an institution that has been so thoroughly marginalised in recent years, though that might be to miss the film's plea for the restoration of the agency to a central role in world affairs; there's an undercurrent of optimism that re-surfaces near the conclusion, as if to hope that things may not always be how they currently are.

Like The Lord of War, which backs away from naming Liberia's real warlord in favor of a thinly-disguised alternative, The Interpreter creates a fictional Mugabe-like despot around which to weave its twisted plot; though it might not quite have the courage of its convictions, it is, for the most part, refreshingly adult in its refusal to follow the obvious route for the two leads, who are both convincingly jaded.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States